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"I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."
October 19, 2010 2:34 PM   Subscribe

Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell (previously) today challenged her Democratic opponent Chris Coons on his statement that the Constitution disallowed the integration of religion into the federal government, asking, "Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?"

Earlier in the debate, O'Donnell accused Coons of constitutional ignorance, saying that, "perhaps they didn't teach you Constitutional law at Yale Divinity School."
posted by phaedon (357 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Perhaps they didn't teach her the First Amendment at Witch School.
posted by scody at 2:36 PM on October 19, 2010 [113 favorites]


...if O’Donnell is elected Senator, she’ll vote exactly the same way that [Sen. John] Thune [R-SD] does and pretty close to the way the triumvirate (Collins, Snowe, Graham) does. She’ll just look stupider doing it. For liberals, that should be seen as a feature, not a bug.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:37 PM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Previously Deleted

I still hate people that claim to be strict constitutionalists and then have no idea what the text of the const is.
posted by cyphill at 2:38 PM on October 19, 2010 [22 favorites]


Purposefully ignorant is the new beige. Or something.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:38 PM on October 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


Hasn't her argument been a fundie staple for a while? Don't the dominionists assert that the first amendment only prohibits the US from officially establishing a state church, and furthermore, that the separation of church and state is actually just a fever dream of that godless communist Jefferson?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 2:38 PM on October 19, 2010


The money quote:

Coons - "Congress may make no law respecting the establishment of a religion-"
O'Donnell - "That's in the first amendment?"

Which then leads to a smattering of shocked and uncomfortable laughter from the audience, which O'Donnell misinterprets as applause.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:39 PM on October 19, 2010 [64 favorites]


Maybe her rent is 2 damn high.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:40 PM on October 19, 2010 [23 favorites]


Christine O'Donnell (R-DE) believes her participation in an eight-day conservative think tank fellowship is the "number one" thing qualifying her for service in the U.S. Senate. O'Donnell says the "deep analysis of the constitution" taught at Claremont Institute's competitive Lincoln Fellowship program would help her make sound decisions in the Senate
posted by Rhaomi at 2:40 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Progressive pundit Peter Daou views her comment in terms of the larger conservative effort to reframe the national debate on various issues.
posted by Bromius at 2:41 PM on October 19, 2010


which O'Donnell misinterprets as applause

"I was saying Boo-urns..."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:41 PM on October 19, 2010 [13 favorites]


O'Donnell accused Coons of constitutional ignorance, saying that, "perhaps they didn't teach you Constitutional law at Yale Divinity School."

But, they did at Yale Law School!

Coons has two masters from Yale: Divinity and a J.D.
posted by ericb at 2:41 PM on October 19, 2010 [13 favorites]


Umm, America, didn't you already do this once with Sarah Palin? It's like a real-life electoral version of a double posts. Mods, delete her already!
posted by afx237vi at 2:41 PM on October 19, 2010 [53 favorites]




This thread again?
posted by blucevalo at 2:42 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


And Coon's degree from Yale Divinity School is a Masters in Ethics.
posted by ericb at 2:43 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm waiting for her to claim that the clip was edited and taken out of context.
posted by anniecat at 2:43 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Tonight I plan on going home and masturbating in my support of O'Donnell.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:44 PM on October 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


You know, in her defense, it really isn't in there...oh, nope..there it is. My bad.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 2:44 PM on October 19, 2010 [15 favorites]


Only a witch would be this confused about the US Constitution.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:44 PM on October 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


This is the Jesus of FPPs.
posted by swift at 2:45 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yay, from her damage-control-spin, she doesn't understand the Fourteenth Amendment either.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:45 PM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


I was reading the FreeRepublic thread about the debate this afternoon and these people truly baffle me. They all are saying that O'Donnell "won" this debate and that she made Coons look terrible and that any suggestion that she embarrassed herself by, ah, not knowing the words to the First Amendment is a conspiracy brought on by every media entity except Fox News.

I really don't get it. It's like in-person versions of internet trolls. How hard do they have to work to pretend this is true?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:45 PM on October 19, 2010 [18 favorites]


I still hate people that claim to be strict constitutionalists and then have no idea what the text of the const is.

Type the whole word, please. It's not all that hard, really. Unless of course you're typing this from your phone, them I implore you to pull over and/or get out of my way on the sidewalk.

Also, I think this bimbonic wonder just lost herself the election. Hoo-fucking-ray. It takes more than reading Sarah Palin's fashion tips to become an elected official. Ms. Palin lost the actual election, you may recall.
posted by jonmc at 2:45 PM on October 19, 2010


Oh, it's in ericb's post. I knew the "taken out of context" would appear. I'm waiting for Job Stewart to do a mash up of every person who says "it was taken out of context." That's like the no. 1 thing reality stars and politicians have learned when they get caught on tape. When you can't take the R.Kelly "Little Man" approach, use the "it was taken out of context" approach.
posted by anniecat at 2:45 PM on October 19, 2010


Hasn't her argument been a fundie staple for a while?

As I said in the deleted thread:

Maybe she meant that those words aren't in the First Amendment.

I honestly do think that this is where she's coming from, by way of ignorance and uncritically swallowed talking points. I remember from my Evangelical elementary schooling it being presented as a commonplace that liberals (the bad ones who want to ban prayer in schools and tear down the Ten Commandments in court rooms) ignorantly believe that 'separation of church and state' is in the First Amendment, whereas it's from Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptist Association. It's a rhetorical dodge, of course, because it obviates that the concept of the separation of church & state is clearly enshrined in the Constitution, but the conversation has already moved past that point to getting you to be upset with liberals who are banning school prayer.

In any event, if Christine O'Donnell comes from the same background I do, she's been told time and again by authority figures that it isn't in there, which is, I imagine, where she starts off on her trail towards this current national embarrassment. I don't mean this to excuse her, at all, but it's at least something to talk about besides arguing about whether hammers or potted plants are more intelligent.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:46 PM on October 19, 2010 [35 favorites]


This is the Jesus of FPPs.

The exact wording of separation of church and Mefi is not in the Constitution.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:46 PM on October 19, 2010


Betcha' didn't know I can see Russia from my front porch.
"When O'Donnell suggested that 'Afghanistan became a vacuum for terrorism and a staging ground for 9/11' because America was 'working in Afghanistan to defeat Soviets in the 80s and we left' too early, Coons questioned O'Donnell's knowledge on the issue.

'You have just laid out a position on Afghanistan that is reckless and irresponsible,' Coons said. 'You thought we were fighting the Soviets in the 90s last time we faced each other!'"*
posted by ericb at 2:46 PM on October 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Wikipedia has an interesting article on Separation of Church and State that doesn't apply to just America.
posted by nomadicink at 2:47 PM on October 19, 2010


Is this somehow more postworthy and less LOLCRAYZEE than the other one?
posted by Gator at 2:48 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


she's been told time and again by authority figures that it isn't in there, which is, I imagine, where she starts off on her trail towards this current national embarrassment
It used to be, everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. But that's not the case anymore. Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything. It's certainty...

Truthiness is "What I say is right, and [nothing] anyone else says could possibly be true." It's not only that I feel it to be true, but that I feel it to be true. There's not only an emotional quality, but there's a selfish quality.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:49 PM on October 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


Type the whole word, please. It's not all that hard, really. Unless of course you're typing this from your phone, them I implore you to pull over and/or get out of my way on the sidewalk.

Also, I think this bimbonic wonder just lost herself the election. Hoo-fucking-ray. It takes more than reading Sarah Palin's fashion tips to become an elected official. Ms. Palin lost the actual election, you may recall.


Really, Jon? In a thread that's about to be deleted you are checking quotes and deriding me for not spelling out a whole word? Get the fuck over yourself.
posted by cyphill at 2:50 PM on October 19, 2010 [13 favorites]


...if O’Donnell is elected Senator, she’ll vote exactly the same way that [Sen. John] Thune [R-SD] does and pretty close to the way the triumvirate (Collins, Snowe, Graham) does. She’ll just look stupider doing it. For liberals, that should be seen as a feature, not a bug.

Sounds like a good reason not to vote for her, which is the question at hand for those of Delaware, no?
posted by Ironmouth at 2:50 PM on October 19, 2010


Ted Rall gives his take.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:51 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was reading the FreeRepublic thread about the debate this afternoon and these people truly baffle me. They all are saying that O'Donnell "won" this debate and that she made Coons look terrible and that any suggestion that she embarrassed herself by, ah, not knowing the words to the First Amendment is a conspiracy brought on by every media entity except Fox News.

Just gotta out vote 'em! Can't make 'em any smarter!
posted by Ironmouth at 2:51 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


We could probably avoid a lot of awkward moments like these if we could come up with an alternative to the now-totemic phrase "separation of church and state." Coons clearly uses the phrase as a description of the principle enshrined in the first amendment, but O'Donnell sees it as a literal string and since those exact words aren't in the Constitution it must not be a true principle of the Constitution.

And even if you take her "spin" into account, there's nothing to argue. Public schools are governmental institutions, and should not be doing anything within those institutions to establish any religion. At all. Ever.

This still doesn't prevent you from teaching your kids about intelligent design at home, either.
posted by jnrussell at 2:52 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ted Rall gives his take.

Typical. Every thread about how bad the GOP is turns into how bad Obama is. We getting into real troll territory here.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:53 PM on October 19, 2010 [28 favorites]


Also, I think this bimbonic wonder just lost herself the election.

I can't imagine you think this is what did it... I mean, she's been at least 12 points down since the day she got nominated. I don't live there, but has she even polled within the margin of error of Coons since the primary?

I'm only reflecting on it because I heard lines like "this just cost her the election" about Palin throughout September and October 2008, too, and in retrospect it's equally way too generous. There was never a chance. McCain knew 24 hours after announcing Palin that he just put everything on 26 Red and then the wheel actually exploded.

The better question might be if/when this cost any other Republicans their election because money was wasted in Delaware.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:53 PM on October 19, 2010 [10 favorites]


Ted Rall gives his take.

Well, there's self-interest, and then there's self-delusion.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:53 PM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's a United States Senate race closing in on the 2-week mark where the LOLCRAYZEE one stands a good chance of being a United States Senator. We're not talking about the Westboro Baptist Church or another revelation from the TimeCube guy, it's an actual possible future Senator saying this shit.

That said, the disturbing thing about this video is not the semantics of whether or not a particular literal phrase is in the constitution, it's that Christine O'Donnell can't tell the difference between people laughing with her and people laughing at her.
posted by 0xFCAF at 2:53 PM on October 19, 2010 [10 favorites]


We could probably avoid a lot of awkward moments like these if we could come up with an alternative to the now-totemic phrase "separation of church and state."

"The establishment clause"?
posted by Bromius at 2:53 PM on October 19, 2010 [6 favorites]




Typical. Every thread about how bad the GOP is turns into how bad Obama is. We getting into real troll territory here.

What did the linked comic have to do with Obama? Was the black guy supposed to be Obama?
posted by shakespeherian at 2:55 PM on October 19, 2010


asking, "Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?"

Protip: it's after the section that outlaws masturbation. Got to read the whole thing, lady.
posted by chavenet at 2:55 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's her attempt to spin it

Oh, how quaint. The National Review is calling the midterm elections a "Battle" while their New Palin gives the "Exact words, Greg! Exact words!" defense when called out for extreme ignorance.

American politics are dead. It's not O'Donnell's fault. I can't blame her for the full transformation from a governing body to a bunch of second graders fighting on the playground, citing the Rubber vs. Glue ruling as well as pointing out the fact that today is Opposite Day and also, what you say is what you are. But she sure ain't helping things one bit. I blame the cooties.
posted by Spatch at 2:55 PM on October 19, 2010 [16 favorites]


How hard do they have to work to pretend this is true?

Not very. For the true believer, she is Good, and detractors are Bad. It doesn't matter what she says, it doesn't matter what she does, as long as someone out there can tell them in an authoritative voice that "It's all ok, it's a misunderstanding, it's a lie by those that hate us, see how they twist our words"...

And no amount of logic or fact will dislodge them. The more we laugh, the more it reinforces the world vs. them persecution they believe exists.

At this point I'm not sure what the hell is left to do with people who think she is a good idea. You can't persuade them, you can't reason with them, all you can do is stand in awe as they do this kind of thing again and again and applaud themselves for the spectacle.
posted by quin at 2:55 PM on October 19, 2010 [10 favorites]


From the debate:
Coons: "I believe that creationism is religious doctrine and that--"

O'Donnell: "How about the theory of intelligent design?"

Coons: "Creationism, which you'd like to call..."

O'Donnell: "Theory of intelligent design!"

Coons: "...the theory of intelligent design, is religious doctrine."

O'Donnell: "No, two different things."
I think O'Donnell is a cdesign proponentsist.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:56 PM on October 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


Can I just say something about the witch comments? I think it's pretty inappropriate to make fun of O'Donnell for dabbling in witchcraft. I mean, I know she's dumb and Sarah Palin-lite and har har and all that, but witches are real people and have a real religion.

I kind of get a feeling from some of the witch jokes that most people think being a witch is some kind of incredibly outlandish, outrageous thing that should bar someone from public office forever, like being a former prostitute or fluffer or something. I know a few wiccans and I don't think their religion deserves that kind of scorn from ostensibly liberal people. I think their religion is horseshit too, but it's no more real or fake than Christianity, from my perspective.

I don't think people would be so lulzy about it if she had admitted to dabbling in Buddhism as a kid or whatever.

If O'Donnell has any religious problems, actually, it's the fact that she claims to be both an Evangelical Protestant and a Roman Catholic at the same time -- an act which both faiths would probably consider to be High Heresy and a crime worthy of excommunication.
posted by Avenger at 2:56 PM on October 19, 2010 [49 favorites]


Perhaps they didn't teach her the First Amendment at Witch School.

Perhaps, but then.... anything can happen on Halloween.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 2:57 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bwuhuhuhuhhuuuhuhuhuhuhhahhhhh.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 2:57 PM on October 19, 2010


I'm worried that this won't make any difference to her popularity.
posted by acheekymonkey at 2:57 PM on October 19, 2010


Previously Deleted

Seriously? Jesus.
posted by Artw at 2:57 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


So her defense is that she's just trolling?

"Those words don't appear in the Constitution."
"Yes, but they've been enshrined in law since an 1878 Supreme Court case interpreting the First Am-"
"BUT THEY DON'T APPEAR IN THE CONSTITUTION."
"Well, yes, but that's not the point-"
"SEE? My opponent is an idiot, ladies and gentleman!"
posted by naju at 2:58 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can I just say something about the witch comments? I think it's pretty inappropriate to make fun of O'Donnell for dabbling in witchcraft. I mean, I know she's dumb and Sarah Palin-lite and har har and all that, but witches are real people and have a real religion.

About that. O'Donnell isn't talking about Wicca. She's talking about the 80s boogieman for Evangelicals.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:59 PM on October 19, 2010 [41 favorites]


shakespeherian: What did the linked comic have to do with Obama? Was the black guy supposed to be Obama?

"Obama" appears in small letters on a desk sign at the bottom of the frame.

Avenger: I know a few wiccans and I don't think their religion deserves that kind of scorn from ostensibly liberal people. I think their religion is horseshit too, but it's no more real or fake than Christianity, from my perspective.

I know more than a few and their attitude is that O'Donnell ridicules and belittles their religion by saying that she "dabbled" in it as though she had been dabbling in Hello Kitty gear.
posted by blucevalo at 2:59 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Area Man Passionate Defender Of What He Imagines Constitution To Be
Once again, Republicans out-Onion the Onio
posted by PlusDistance at 2:59 PM on October 19, 2010 [23 favorites]


but witches are real people and have a real religion

She doesn't even respect it enough to defend it. People are probably making fun of her for being a kooky dabbler, someone who doesn't takes her spirituality seriously or respectfully to even know what she's following. She doesn't even have a basic fifth-grade civics education, apparently.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:00 PM on October 19, 2010


Coons quotes the First Amendment, and O'Donnell acts as if there is no such quote. She is an idiot, plain and simple.

But here's the thing. There is indeed a right-wing talking point related to this. The First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion". You could interpret that as referring only to congress, not to state or local authorities. And you could argue that it doesn't prohibit a religious message being promoted, only a specific church being established.

But the Supreme Court has not interpreted it that way. And guess which body is referred to in the Constitution as the supreme judicial authority over the laws?

Many of those who shout "Read the constitution!" need to do just that, and understand that the Constitution creates the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court interprets the Constitution, and the Court's rulings are just as binding as the text of the Constitution itself (unless a new Court contradicts the old one).

And get over it. People who disagree with your politics are not necessarily treasonous.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:00 PM on October 19, 2010 [36 favorites]


"Obama" appears in small letters on a desk sign at the bottom of the frame.

Ah, I missed that, thanks. Is there a reason that drawing 'insert black guy here' counts as depicting Obama?
posted by shakespeherian at 3:01 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Jesus, I'm Canadian and I know that the first amendment of the US Constitution is about the separation of church and state LMAO
posted by 1000monkeys at 3:01 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can I just say something about the witch comments? I think it's pretty inappropriate to make fun of O'Donnell for dabbling in witchcraft.

True enough, but I think that part of the story is that she and her handlers were so worried about the extent to which this would freak out her base that she opened a TV spot by looking directly at the camera and saying "I'm not a witch."

Imagine a 2008 Barack Obama campaign ad beginning with "I was born in Hawaii" or "I'm not a Muslim." The fact that O'Donnell felt herself compelled to make this move became news in itself.
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 3:01 PM on October 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


The constution doesn't not say anything about Hitler neither, but we wouldn't want him not teaching us'es childrens wouldn't we not?
posted by blue_beetle at 3:03 PM on October 19, 2010


Also:

So her defense is that she's just trolling?

I don't think she has the intelligence or the guile. But if she suddenly starts responding to Constitutional questions with unrelated talking points related to provisions in the Treaty of Westphalia, I may reconsider.
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 3:04 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, Gov. Joe Manchin will likely lose the WV Senate race to John Raese, despite insanely high approval numbers and a history of popular and successful programs and decisions, purely because he is a Democrat.

From the Charleston Daily Mail's endorsement of Raese:
Make no mistake. That choice is painful.

Gov. Joe Manchin is one of the most engaging and effective governors in the state's history. He has tackled many of the state-erected barriers to economic growth - a broken workers' compensation system, uncompetitive tax rates, an unfair legal climate.

The governor also has tried to educate liberal Washington on what its barmy energy plans would do to the U.S. economy.

But it's no use.

Leading Democrats have made it clear that if Manchin were sent to Washington, he would be expected to function as part of the team.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:05 PM on October 19, 2010


XQUZYPHYR: I was reading the FreeRepublic thread about the debate this afternoon and these people truly baffle me.

Bizarro world: O'Donnell Right About 'Separation of Church and State'. While the First Amendment doesn't come out and say "from this day forth, there shall be no mixing of Church and State," it pretty clearly prohibits state from getting involved with church. There's only so much you can hide or distort in 45 words.

AOL News has longer quotes pulled from Coons, and more from O'Donnell.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:05 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it's pretty inappropriate to make fun of O'Donnell for dabbling in witchcraft.

What about the Satan picnics?
posted by Artw at 3:05 PM on October 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


This probably isn't going to be a deal breaker for anybody. Those that are already inclined to laugh at Christine O'Donnell and her followers are yucking it up. Those that support her will either look the other way or accept the party line that she knows that the concept is in the Constitution but was making a "statement" about the phrase that has become some sort of liberal attack on religion.

In terms of comedy, it's great stuff. But sadly nobody will leaving the Tea Party choir over this one. Facts and actions are apparently not enough to make them reevaluate who they're supporting.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 3:06 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


From Bromius' comment:

Progressive pundit Peter Daou views her comment in terms of the larger conservative effort to reframe the national debate on various issues.

Yeah, it's nothing new, but it still disgusts me to see American political discourse pander to dumbshits:

Candidate: My opponent wants to feed your children to rabid pedophile bears. I'm not that candidate! [random smattering of words that reek faintly of the 6 o'clock news / high school history class]

Dumbshit: Damn, he's smart! And he's not Candidate B!

It'll bug the shit out of me until the day I die. And it's getting worse every day.
posted by Rykey at 3:06 PM on October 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


Coons quotes the First Amendment, and O'Donnell acts as if there is no such quote. She is an idiot, plain and simple.

This. Watch the video (now that I finally have after also being given a transcript from the first time this post existed.)

It isn't about the phrase separation of church and state and whether or not its in the Constitution.

Coons says: "Government shall make no establishment of religion."

And O'Donnell comes back with "That's in the First Amendment?"

Yes, it is. Sure, she may be trying to back up to the question regarding church and state separation earlier. But she certainly seems to be arguing with the actual text of the document.

She was so prepared to fight like a grizzly over one specific talking point that she can't actually make a reasoned argument.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:08 PM on October 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


So her defense is that she's just trolling?

Yeah, no. Proper trolling would require that she was manipulating this knowingly. Based on the transcript, I'm not getting that. She didn't have a clue and shuffled her feet in something approximating a song and dance in an effort to deflect a shallow understanding of the deep fathoms she finds herself in.
posted by quin at 3:08 PM on October 19, 2010


Yeah, I take back the "just trolling" thing - given that she was questioning the actual text of the amendment later on, she can't even claim that.
posted by naju at 3:09 PM on October 19, 2010


Is there a reason that drawing 'insert black guy here' counts as depicting Obama?

Ted Rall is really not big on having his drawings mimic what people look like. His depictions of Obama (and other figures) are internally consistent, not externally.
posted by 0xFCAF at 3:10 PM on October 19, 2010


Unbelievable.
posted by homunculus at 3:10 PM on October 19, 2010


This is the Jesus of FPPs.

So, we're going to nail it to a tree, form a religion around that grotesque act of violence then spend 2,000 years worshiping it?
posted by loquacious at 3:11 PM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


But then she asks Coons to name the five freedoms granted by the First Amendment. I don't know, I think maybe she was trying to make a point that "separation of church and state" doesn't literally appear in the constitution. You must have some familiarity with the First Amendment to ask such a specific question.

I'm not sure that it matters much that the specific phrase doesn't appear there, given that the establishment clause is generally described in those terms, and if this was her point she did a lousy job of explaining it, but perhaps she isn't actually as dumb as this debate might indicate (much as I'd like to believe that she's a loony).
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 3:11 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


It this was really the Jesus of FPPs, it would have followed the usual path of resurrection and come back to life on Metatalk.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:13 PM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


So, we're going to nail it to a tree, form a religion around that grotesque act of violence then spend 2,000 years worshiping it?

If The Palin Longboat is any indication, yes.
posted by jedicus at 3:14 PM on October 19, 2010


(I see that the Palin thread is not properly considered a longboat, but the point stands)
posted by jedicus at 3:15 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is the Jesus of FPPs.

Presumably this is one of those "Mods don't feel like playing whack-a-mole" threads.
posted by Gator at 3:17 PM on October 19, 2010


I'm not sure that it matters much that the specific phrase doesn't appear there, given that the establishment clause is generally described in those terms, and if this was her point she did a lousy job of explaining it, but perhaps she isn't actually as dumb as this debate might indicate (much as I'd like to believe that she's a loony).

I think the greater point here is, as some have noted, that she was trying to set up some grandiose and powerful trap for Coons to reveal him as ignorant and instead shitted herself on national television. What's funny is it's yet again another comparison to Sarah Palin. Her debate with Joe Biden had a moment so blatant and contrived that it was a specific joke on SNL the next weekend- she starts the debate asking if she can call Biden "Joe" during the debate so she can use a prepared line about a guy named Joe later on.

And I think O'Donnell just tanked on the same attempt- her prep wasn't the issues, or her policies... it was trying to get a good sound byte queued up and she blew it.

Going back to what I said before, maybe that's it. Maybe because the tea partiers could tell that's what she was going for, it's awesome to them. It's like I said before as well about the internet trolls. It's not even about winning; it's just feeling like they pissed off liberals somehow. That equals "win."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:18 PM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Holy flocking schmidt.
posted by punkfloyd at 3:19 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


0.0%
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:21 PM on October 19, 2010 [19 favorites]


Flipping channels in my hotel room in MA, I saw these two debating. I can only hope that she's dragging down the GOP everywhere instead of moving the overton window (or the equivalent for crazy/dumb). I don't know if people elsewhere look at her and say "republicans are kinda crazy, maybe I shouldn't vote for one" or "my republican is not an extreme moron like that lady".
posted by a robot made out of meat at 3:22 PM on October 19, 2010


And while I'm making the comparisons, might as well point this out too: if there is anyone out there in major command at the RNC not watching this and shitting themselves over the thought that Palin's going to run for president, they need to start. As a liberal I'd of course love for it to happen but holy cow, they are watching two years from now happening right before their eyes. O'Donnell could very literally cost Republicans control of the Senate, and she's doing everything Palin did two years ago and will try to do again in two... and lose them the White House. The lunatics have taken over the asylum, and now they're setting it on fire during the celebration.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:22 PM on October 19, 2010


Please step away from the crazy lady. There is nothing to see here.

I disagree. Christine O'Donnell has been held up as emblematic of the tea party and its contribution to politics, by the teabaggers themselves. If she is this insane, this pointedly and insistently wrong about the plain language of the Constitution she's screaming she needs to "restore", that needs to be brought up every time the tea party rears its ugly head.
posted by kafziel at 3:22 PM on October 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


I should have run for Senate. Apparently any whackjob in a skirt can get on the Republican ticket these days.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:23 PM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Hey, so I'm hardly someone who agrees with O'Donnell's politics, but after the onslaught of media coverage over the past month or two, doesn't this start to feel like, I dunno, beating up a kid in a wheel chair?
posted by indubitable at 3:23 PM on October 19, 2010


Ted Rall gives his take.

Give the Radiolab episode 'The Stans' a listen (no working link found, from 2003). Rall hosts an extreme tourism junket to various foreign countries. It never fails to prompt a listener to ask "Who the hell is this asshole tour guide?"
posted by benzenedream at 3:24 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


O'Donnell is like Palin in that she sees herself as a combination of Predestination and Mr. Smith goes to Washington with a side of Joan of Arc.

She wouldn't be where she is now if god didn't want her there. That's all you need to know.
posted by readery at 3:24 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


After watching the video clip, I have to wonder if that was the most delicious glass of water Mr. Coons has enjoyed in some time. As he watched her crash and burn, he poured that glass so slowly and carefully.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:24 PM on October 19, 2010 [28 favorites]


0.0%

Wow. Not even 0.1%. "Unpossible".

And yeah, not only will this not hurt O'Donnell among her people, it will actively help. Left-wing ridicule is worth more to a Tea Party candidate than an endorsement from Newt Gingrich.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:24 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


So having a clue is now some sort of requirement for public office in the US?

Really?
posted by pompomtom at 3:24 PM on October 19, 2010


The Card Cheat makes an excellent point. This is a crazy candidate for a major party to select, but she has no chance of winning. Sharron Angle and Joe Miller, on the other hand...
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:24 PM on October 19, 2010


Apparently any whackjob in a skirt can get on the Republican ticket these days.

Oh, so that's what I've been doing wrong.
posted by nomadicink at 3:25 PM on October 19, 2010


I will defend and it is by the Constitution that I will make all of my decisions, and that will be the standard-bearer for every piece of legislation that I will vote on.

Perhaps she believes like everything else in the US, if we don't keep it secret and classified, the terrorists will win.

Remember, only an uninformed populace can keep democracy safe!
posted by yeloson at 3:25 PM on October 19, 2010


As a liberal I'd of course love for it to happen

What if she wins?
posted by cell divide at 3:25 PM on October 19, 2010


0.0%

Exactly. If you've got money to spend supporting a Senate candidate, support Manchin in West Virginia. The seat is just as important as Delaware's, and the race isn't a meaningless sideshow attraction.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:25 PM on October 19, 2010


After watching the video clip, I have to wonder if that was the most delicious glass of water Mr. Coons has enjoyed in some time. As he watched her crash and burn, he poured that glass so slowly and carefully.

I don't see how any of this matters. It's not as though there were undecided voters out there who could be influenced to vote one way or the other - Coons will not get any more votes out of this, and O'Connell will get no fewer votes.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:26 PM on October 19, 2010


doesn't this start to feel like, I dunno, beating up a kid in a wheel chair?

The most positive thing that could happen is that middle-of-the-road folks see her lack of a basic fifth-grade education as representative of the ignorance of the Tea Party as a whole, and vote accordingly.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:28 PM on October 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


The governor also has tried to educate liberal Washington on what its barmy energy plans would do to the U.S. economy.

I don't know what's more puzzling: the twisted logic of that editorial or that an American newspaper is using the word "barmy."
posted by kittyprecious at 3:29 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


at least something to talk about besides arguing about whether hammers or potted plants are more intelligent.

There's no argument about that. Hammers and potted plants serve useful purposes, and generally don't plot to destroy our founding principles with gobsmacking ignorance.

This plea to respect the ignorant for their submission to their ignorant elders at some point has to stop. The rest of the Western world is not arguing about creationism being as valid as evolution, or whether religion belongs in government, or whether masturbation is something the government can be concerned about. You may as well start discussing the value of heliocentrism or medicine based on the four humours.

At least Ron Paul has principles that are evenly applied. He doesn't want the Federal Government legislating his personal life, or interfering in the affairs of sovereign nations. That's the principle of limited Federal government. O'Donnell wants the police state and the empire, but doesn't want to pay for it with taxes. She can't connect in her head that Christian ideas and Christian Law are not the same thing, or exclusive to Judeo-Christian religions, or understand why a Muslim or a Jew would be as opposed to State Christianity as she would be to Sharia Law.

She doesn't have a coherent thought in her head, because she doesn't have any ideas that are her own; just the ones she was hand fed. So when you only "know" that the First Amendment doesn't say anything about the separation of Church and state, and when you only "know" the evolution is "just a theory", and when you only "know" that this nation is a Christian nation, you're not going to bother to read the Constitution, or read any blasphemous documents discussing evolution, or read about the Enlightenment ideals and the Deism of the Founding Fathers, or the bloodbath of Christian sectarianism that preceded the Revolutionary War. Instead of trying understand context and meaning, she just regurgitates ideas that sound right because they are the only arguments she's ever heard.

No one should be respected for this sort of mental depravity, and certainly not elected to sit in the Senate.
posted by notion at 3:30 PM on October 19, 2010 [89 favorites]


Elvira: I'm not a witch
posted by edgeways at 3:32 PM on October 19, 2010 [11 favorites]


I can only hope we're on our way to 5000.
posted by josher71 at 3:34 PM on October 19, 2010


I can only hope that she's dragging down the GOP everywhere instead of moving the overton window (or the equivalent for crazy/dumb).

What she's doing is making that idiot Rand Paul look comparatively thoughtful and well-informed.

and would this be a good place to point out that he looks like Caligula?
posted by dilettante at 3:36 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Elvira: I'm not a witch

Elvira: My Heat's On Fire
posted by jonmc at 3:36 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


"doesn't this start to feel like, I dunno, beating up a kid in a wheel chair?"

No, it feels like exposing how completely unqualified a candidate for higher office is lest a bunch of people vote for her out of ignorance or just because she has a "R" after her name.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:36 PM on October 19, 2010 [27 favorites]


I have to wonder if that was the most delicious glass of water Mr. Coons has enjoyed in some time.

I don't know. I was befuddled. I'd be going, "Did that crazy lady really just say what I thought she said? No one's that stupid. Did *I* just screw something up? You know how they say that if you can't spot the mark at the table, you are the mark? Am I the mark?"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:38 PM on October 19, 2010 [17 favorites]


I think it's pretty inappropriate to make fun of O'Donnell for dabbling in witchcraft. I mean, I know she's dumb and Sarah Palin-lite and har har and all that, but witches are real people and have a real religion.

Meh. I think it's generally inappropriate to make someone's religion a target as part of opposing their candidacy for political office. But that doesn't seem to stop anyone on the right or the left, including people on Metafilter, from doing so with respect to candidates of religions they don't like.
posted by The World Famous at 3:39 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I avoid that problem by making fun of all religions.
posted by found missing at 3:41 PM on October 19, 2010 [13 favorites]


"I'm not a witch!" isn't exactly validating witches.

Also, lets face it, from what she says: crap witch.
posted by Artw at 3:42 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I avoid that problem by making fun of all religions.

There's a difference between "making fun of all religions" and attacking a political candidate based on their religious beliefs. I have never seen anyone who was genuinely an equal opportunity attacker in that respect.
posted by The World Famous at 3:43 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can only hope we're on our way to 5000.

Not a chance. She doesn't have Palin's level of crazy. Plus O'Donnell is looking at a fairly big lose in her future and when that happens she'll almost instantly drop off people's radar. The only reason people are paying attention is that they want to see how bad she'll flame out on her way down.
posted by quin at 3:44 PM on October 19, 2010


The witch thing has some of it's humor in the wackiness of it, sure, but mostly in the hypocrisy and backpedaling surrounding the whole affair. Let's not outsmart ourselves.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:44 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]



Hey, so I'm hardly someone who agrees with O'Donnell's politics, but after the onslaught of media coverage over the past month or two, doesn't this start to feel like, I dunno, beating up a kid in a wheel chair?


Uh, my guess is the ridicule will stop when she stops saying stupid shit, which I doubt will ever happen. Fair's fair. Candidates from all parties should be called on their BS whenever they try to get away with it.
posted by 1000monkeys at 3:45 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Plus O'Donnell is looking at a fairly big lose in her future and when that happens she'll almost instantly drop off people's radar

Yeah, that seems to have knocked Palin right out of the headlines.
posted by rkent at 3:45 PM on October 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


Whatever happened to that Alvin Greene guy?
posted by box at 3:47 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


The only reason people are paying attention is that they want to see how bad she'll flame out on her way down.

Exactly. O'Donnell is the political equivalent of the performers who get cut from "American Idol" or "So You Think You Can Dance" before the season even starts, and of whom all we ever see is a 20-second clip that causes us to wonder how they even made it in the front door. The only difference is that, thanks to the primary season, this contestant is going to the finale.
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 3:47 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it's generally inappropriate to make someone's religion a target as part of opposing their candidacy for political office. But that doesn't seem to stop anyone on the right or the left, including people on Metafilter, from doing so with respect to candidates of religions they don't like.

Not to derail, it's just that most religious people are under the misapprehension that they are not in a cult. Only when that cult becomes part of an older, larger cultural tradition does it become disrespectful to most people.
posted by notion at 3:48 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that seems to have knocked Palin right out of the headlines.

It's like Rupert Murdoch is running a Tea Party welfare program. Say some stupid shit, lose an election, and then collect a "news analyst" paycheck on FOX.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:50 PM on October 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


Whatever happened to that Alvin Greene guy?

MY EYES!
posted by Artw at 3:50 PM on October 19, 2010


With regards to Obama and Palin, I'm reminded of a certain quote movie dialog.

Bruce Wayne: Targeting me won't get their money back. I knew the mob wouldn't go down without a fight, but this is different. They crossed the line.
Alfred Pennyworth: You crossed the line first, sir. You squeezed them, you hammered them to the point of desperation. And in their desperation they turned to a man they didn't fully understand.
Bruce Wayne: Criminals aren't complicated, Alfred. Just have to figure out what he's after.
Alfred Pennyworth: With respect, sir, perhaps this is a man that *you* don't fully understand.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:50 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Watching the video was just . . . wow. I read the transcript earlier today, but seeing it adds so much more context to what really happened. She is just so smug when the audience is laughing - she really things that they're laughing WITH her because of her awesome zinger. And she still doesn't get it the second time they laugh at her.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 3:55 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Only when that cult becomes part of an older, larger cultural tradition does it become disrespectful to most people.

That's part of what I attempted to capture by saying "religions they don't like." I would note that there are several very large and well-established religions that people don't seem to mind demonizing when it comes to politics.

That said, I don't think it's particularly useful or accurate to make reference to "most people."
posted by The World Famous at 3:56 PM on October 19, 2010


Plus O'Donnell is looking at a fairly big lose in her future and when that happens she'll almost instantly drop off people's radar

Yeah, that seems to have knocked Palin right out of the headlines.


I have a truly visceral hatred of Palin, but the loss in 2008 was really McCain's, not Palin's -- she energized people who were apathetic about McCain and has been a big help to other candidates since (including O'Donnell.) And she is not off the radar because she is a potential Presidential candidate in 2012.

O'Donnell is a different story entirely.
posted by bearwife at 3:57 PM on October 19, 2010


Nice, Navelgazer. It reminds me of another quotation:
We never believed in Hitler; we only may reproach ourselves for having believed too little in a potential Nazi danger, as long as it disguised itself as a farce.--Confessions of a European intellectual / Franz Schoenberner, p. 196.
posted by No Robots at 3:57 PM on October 19, 2010 [8 favorites]



Whatever happened to that Alvin Greene guy?


Off topic, but you made me think of this. And now I'm in a good mood again.
posted by Elmore at 3:58 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I avoid that problem by making fun of all religions.

thank you.

this woman is basing her campaign on the push to teach ancient mythology as fact next to best evidence science. I reserve the right to give her and witches (people or not) the shit.
posted by victors at 3:58 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


this woman is basing her campaign on the push to teach ancient mythology as fact next to best evidence science.

That's attacking her based on her political agenda.
posted by The World Famous at 4:00 PM on October 19, 2010


Honestly, has anyone checked to see if she floats?
posted by found missing at 4:01 PM on October 19, 2010 [17 favorites]


It isn't about the phrase separation of church and state and whether or not its in the Constitution.

Coons says: "Government shall make no establishment of religion."

And O'Donnell comes back with "That's in the First Amendment?"

Yes, it is. Sure, she may be trying to back up to the question regarding church and state separation earlier. But she certainly seems to be arguing with the actual text of the document.


Well, that isn't technically the language... if she is actually trying to argue that right-wing trope, it's possible the point would be that it's "Congress" not "government" - which they think is important because it's only about the federal government not being involved, but local jurisdictions would be free to establish religious laws - and that it's "shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion" rather than "make no establishment of religion" - which they think important because the idea would be they can make no law in favor or against such an establishment made by other local governing bodies.

That is not the interpretation that has won out in our courts over the years, but it's the one that is popular among the anti-big-gov types who consider themselves constitutionalists. Whether O'Donnell was actually catching those details or just got confused in the middle of it all, I have no idea. But it's not likely the case that she was completely unaware that the establishment clause even exists...
posted by mdn at 4:03 PM on October 19, 2010


TWF, we all know you are talking about your own religion. Respectfully, I am asking you to stop selling self interest as if it were something else.
posted by notion at 4:05 PM on October 19, 2010


Whether O'Donnell was actually catching those details or just got confused in the middle of it all

There is a possibly legitimate interpretation there, but it seemed obvious to me that she has no idea what she's talking about. She didn't catch details, and she didn't "get" confused. She "is" confused.
posted by cell divide at 4:06 PM on October 19, 2010


So, we're going to nail it to a tree, form a religion around that grotesque act of violence then spend 2,000 years worshiping it?

No. We'll spend 2000 years worshiping it because it rose again on the third hour.

I think it's pretty inappropriate to make fun of O'Donnell for dabbling in witchcraft.

Yahbut, as noted she didn't say that she'd been a wiccan or pagan. The nonsense that she spouted that time, about going on a date and their was a blood-smeared altar and such crap, was not significantly removed from saying that she'd actually taken part in the satanic ritual abuse of children or had actually summoned a demon.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:06 PM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


TWF, we all know you are talking about your own religion.

Why do you think that?

Respectfully, I am asking you to stop selling self interest as if it were something else.

And what is it you think I'm "selling?" What is it you think we're discussing here? Because I don't think I'm discussing the same thing that you are. I think you're responding to something I'm not saying or intending.
posted by The World Famous at 4:11 PM on October 19, 2010


Well, that isn't technically the language... if she is actually trying to argue that right-wing trope, it's possible the point would be that it's "Congress" not "government"

In this National Review piece she admits that "What our constitution prevents is … government establishing a religion". So no, she was not making any subtle political point, she was simply wrong.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:12 PM on October 19, 2010


Whatever happened to that Alvin Greene guy?

He crashed a live remote at the state fair to give a reporter bunny ears last week.
posted by chiababe at 4:16 PM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


TBH, I feel perfectly happy mocking any religion that was invented in the 40s after a paying a near-dead Aleister Crowley a couple of hundred quid to sign off on it.
posted by Artw at 4:19 PM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


That's attacking her based on her political agenda.

let's ask her about that - I'm betting she thinks of her religious beliefs in creationist fairy tales as more than a political agenda.

Let me make this as clear as I can: by protecting wildly irrational religious beliefs from any criticisms, you are enabling the spread of those of beliefs into the political discussion. By making these beliefs immune to rational examination they become on par with the scientific process of discovery.
posted by victors at 4:21 PM on October 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


TBH, I feel perfectly happy mocking any religion that was invented in the 40s after a paying a near-dead Aleister Crowley a couple of hundred quid to sign off on it.

Leave Led Zeppelin out of this.
posted by jonmc at 4:22 PM on October 19, 2010 [11 favorites]


There is no legitimate talking point. The First Amendment prohibits Congress (i.e. the lawmaking body of the federal government) from passing legislation respecting the establishment of religion. The Fourteenth Amendment extends this prohibition to state and local governemnts as well. This includes school boards.

All of this is settled and understood constitutional law. There is no legitimate point for her to make.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:24 PM on October 19, 2010 [11 favorites]


"What our constitution prevents is … government establishing a religion"

What people are saying on TPM is that in the context of the first amendment, the line "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;..." the word establishment is a NOUN, not a verb.

They are saying, and I agree, that Madison wasn't saying Congress could not "establish (verb) a religion" but that Congress could not pass laws respecting religious establishments (noun).

Like ya know, the Catholic Church is an establishment, the Anglican Church etc.

The result being that our constitution has created a wall between church and state since no laws we pass could favor one religion over another.

I think they explain it better over there... about halfway down in the commnets.
posted by Max Power at 4:27 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


In some ways, it doesn't matter that O'Donnell will get buried in this election.

I've done a bit of reading on the evangelical right this past year, and I think there's some good evidence that an incremental rightward shift is part of the playbook for these people. They don't need to win as much as they need to get the subtle air of legitimacy that media coverage (however negative) and primary victories (!) give them. It's not about convincing reasonable people that their batshit positions are valid; it's about getting on the radar so that, election cycle by election cycle, they can appear more and more legit to Americans who least understand politics (or the world, for that matter).

I mean, George W. Bush back in 2000, responding "Christ" to the question of who his favorite philosopher is... that was neither a heartfelt reply nor an accident. It was a signal that he was the evangelical right's man (whatever they took that to mean). After that, it became more and more common to hear candidates for office openly acknowledge their evangelical leanings. A requirement, even, if you wanted the evangelical vote.

So yeah, O'Donnell seems loony enough to the average person right now, but her movement is getting its foot in the door for elections of the future. And considering the wingnut social causes she got behind in her younger days, I'm sure she understands the value of losing the battle to win the war.
posted by Rykey at 4:29 PM on October 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


She turned me into a newt.
posted by Balisong at 4:34 PM on October 19, 2010 [13 favorites]


let's ask her about that - I'm betting she thinks of her religious beliefs in creationist fairy tales as more than a political agenda.

So what? What you're complaining about, both in your previous comment and in this one, is her policy agenda.

Let me make this as clear as I can: by protecting wildly irrational religious beliefs from any criticisms, you are enabling the spread of those of beliefs into the political discussion. By making these beliefs immune to rational examination they become on par with the scientific process of discovery.

Let me make this as clear as I can: Who on earth are you talking to? It can't possibly be me, since I have said nothing about "protecting wildly irrational religious beliefs from any criticisms" or about "making these beliefs immune to rational examination."
posted by The World Famous at 4:34 PM on October 19, 2010


I got better.
posted by Balisong at 4:36 PM on October 19, 2010 [13 favorites]


What people are saying on TPM is that in the context of the first amendment, the line "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;..." the word establishment is a NOUN, not a verb.

Exactly. Otherwise the free exercise clause wouldn't make any sense. "Thereof" refers to "an establishment of religion."
posted by The World Famous at 4:36 PM on October 19, 2010


I think it's pretty inappropriate to make fun of O'Donnell for dabbling in witchcraft. I mean, I know she's dumb and Sarah Palin-lite and har har and all that, but witches are real people and have a real religion.
posted by victors at 4:39 PM on October 19, 2010


What's your point, victors? That comment you linked wasn't mine. And it didn't say anything about "protecting wildly irrational religious beliefs from any criticisms" or about "making these beliefs immune to rational examination," either.
posted by The World Famous at 4:43 PM on October 19, 2010


Ah, I missed that, thanks. Is there a reason that drawing 'insert black guy here' counts as depicting Obama?

Other than what folks above have said, I don't know. I'm not a Ted Rall connoisseur. But the blonde foreign policy aide on the right doesn't really represent anyone real in the administration that I can think of, either. I suppose the unshaven dude chuckling about masturbation could be David Plouffe after a bender, but who knows.
posted by blucevalo at 4:44 PM on October 19, 2010


Y'all might want to consider the idea that maybe it's because Ted Rall sucks.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:47 PM on October 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


Never assume malice when stupidity is a sufficient explanation.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:55 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


or ignorance, which is a distinction with a difference.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:56 PM on October 19, 2010


In some ways, it doesn't matter that O'Donnell will get buried in this election.

I think it matters very much. She's not interviewing for a job in the US Senate without having any qualifications or experience. Even she knows that. She's interviewing for a job at Fox News, and to be quite honest, if I were the hiring manager over there, I'd be well-pressed to hire her.

She's a telegenic, photogenic single (some would say closeted) white female from a mid-Atlantic state with conservative bona fides who IS GENERATING MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF ATTENTION from members of the public who normally wouldn't give a damn about conservative pundits, and if she got whipped by 30 points it would make libruls so much more incensed every time we'd see that chirpy, hey that's my bum face on the TV every day, generating even more interminable discussion. More talk about a subject you have signed to your roster, more money you can charge the clients.

When is the last time that you went apeshit when you heard Ann Coulter or Michelle Malkin screaming about forced sterilizations at the border? The TP people can't relate to (real) college educated people like them. They need something simple and easy to eat without a fork and knive.

Win or lose, she's gotten everyone's attention just like another resume-wreck of years past. So yes, they want a victim, they want a martyr. They want someone who was forced to quit or lost because of the mean media and the bearded commies. Shit, she could show up to the next debate in blackface and it wouldn't make a damn difference.

We're being trolled in the worst way.
posted by jsavimbi at 5:10 PM on October 19, 2010 [9 favorites]


Back up a second, can we get Elvira in the senate?
posted by The Whelk at 5:11 PM on October 19, 2010 [13 favorites]


[folks - keep the "invisible sky monster" sneering out of here, it turns the whole thread into a poo-flinging match. Go to MeTa if you need to, we were sort of expecting you anyhow.]
posted by jessamyn at 5:12 PM on October 19, 2010


In this poo-flinging match, are we being graded on distance, or accuracy?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:24 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


But the blonde foreign policy aide on the right doesn't really represent anyone real in the administration that I can think of, either.

Hillary Clinton

And Ted Rall sucks.
posted by angrycat at 5:26 PM on October 19, 2010


In defense of Ted Rall, he's right about almost everything.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:36 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


O'Donnell is flabbergastingly dumb.

How on earth did she get nominated? Is the electoral process completely broken? It boggles my mind: a significant number of people decided she was their best foot forward. WTFBBQ?
posted by five fresh fish at 5:37 PM on October 19, 2010


Ted Rall strikes me as the guy that comes to your dinner party and talks about dead children.

"BECAUSE THAT'S REAL LIFE, MAN! REAL LIFE! NOT THIS FAKE ASS SUBURBAN FANTASY YOU'RE LIVING IN."

"More mashed potatoes, Ted?"

"CAN YOU TASTE THE TEARS OF THE CHILD THAT PICKED THESE POTATOES, MAN?"

"Actually, I love the garlic and shallots you put in this."

"Oh, thanks honey!"

"OBAMA IS A CORPORATE STOOGE! HE SOLD YOU HOPE, AND YOU BOUGHT IT! HOOK, LINE AND SINKER, SHEEPLE."

"So, no second helpings on the potatoes, then. Got it."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:38 PM on October 19, 2010 [38 favorites]


99% of those claiming to be biblical literalists don't know what the Bible says or where their interpretation of it actually comes from.

99% of those claiming to be strict constitutional constructionists don't know what the Constitution actually says, nor the case-law that derives from it.

We are living in an era where a large and powerful portion of the populace doesn't understand that their most fundamental beliefs are actually remnants of a simple and very recent oral tradition with no accountability, and their party is pointing to anyone quoting the source material as "the enemy."
posted by Navelgazer at 5:42 PM on October 19, 2010 [23 favorites]


Ted Rall strikes me as the guy that comes to your dinner party and talks about dead children.

But in a fun, smart, cartoonish way.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:43 PM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Back up a second, can we get Elvira in the senate?

Well she "announced" her presidential candidacy at least two times, the last time saying, "We've had two boobs in the White House, might as well be mine."
posted by edgeways at 5:44 PM on October 19, 2010


In defense of Ted Rall, he's right about almost everything.

Except that he doesn't appreciate President Obama, so he's dead to Metafilter.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:51 PM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


To be fair, it's hard to be concerned with the First Amendment when you're obsessed with the 2nd and 10th Amendments.
posted by questionsandanchors at 5:53 PM on October 19, 2010


Meanwhile tea party leader Ginny Thomas has taken this moment to go psycho on Anita Hill's voicemail at 730 in the morning.
posted by humanfont at 5:53 PM on October 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


Elvira, senator of the dark.
posted by The Whelk at 5:54 PM on October 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


I find the most compelling thing here is that we are talking about embellishment, sensationalism of twisted facts and twisted lies. Our national discourse has devolved into talking points and "gotcha" journalism, and true discourse is irrelevant since we only watch the highlights and provide our own context. It is a symptom of information overload. It's true that if you hunt down the facts, make informed decisions based on a myriad of sources, including the ones you disagree with, you will come to some well rounded center of the idea being talked about. The problem is and always will be conformational bias. In the end, we believe what we believe, and as a nation, most of us are far too lazy and opinionated to give a story like this any kind of well rounded critical analysis. Case in point: Wicca is just as ridiculous as Christianity is. Neither have any basis in fact, and the well brought up point that what Miss O'Donnell is talking about on the Bill Maher show doesn't constitute anything that exists in reality, still is outshined by the nutty comments about "Let's not disrespect REAL witchcraft, or Wicca or whatever." I find it amusing that even in the elite group of intelligent and thoughtful Me-fites, there still exists people who would "please to bend down for the one called The Green Man"....
posted by venbear3 at 5:56 PM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


In this poo-flinging match, are we being graded on distance, or accuracy?


Consistency, fooooool.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:57 PM on October 19, 2010


Mind you that I don't blame those 99-percenters I was speaking of. I think there's a part of the brain that desperately craves absolutes, something infallible. It needs bedrock for everything else. I can't accurately point to my bits of this, but I'm certain that I have them. But here's the thing:

I love Jesus. I'm an atheist who loves most of what Jesus reportedly did and said. Had I been brought up in a different environment, with a different majority-religion, it is likely that I would feel the same way about Buddha or Mohammad. As is, my view of morality and what it means to be a person in this world was formed by my parents, my siblings, friends, girlfriends, employers, and the First United Methodist Church. I don't keep well in touch with all of them, but the effects are there.

And few things make me feel more impotent than trying to explain how perverted the fundies have gotten it. How diametrically wrong it all is. And I refuse to throw Christianity out wholesale simply on account of those fuckers. There's too much good there to dismiss.

But the irony is that in my experience showing the actual source material to those Darby-ist fundies who claim to be Christian is akin to showing a cross to a vampire. It threatens their bedrock, and thus threatens their existence as they understand it, and so they will hiss and sputter (metaphorically) and do whatever they must to get away from it.

But there's so much good there. Dammit all.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:59 PM on October 19, 2010 [10 favorites]


Maybe the plan is to get everyone so depressed and dismal about politics that we just quit trying to have democracy and settle for benign dictatorshipor corporatacracy.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:04 PM on October 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'll grant her consistency; she seems to know about as much about the constitution as she does about Wicca.
posted by malocchio at 6:08 PM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


You guys had a nice little country going there for a while.
posted by rocket88 at 6:13 PM on October 19, 2010


It's weird that you guys are determined to talk this. She's clearly an idiot, so what's the point is giving her so much attention? She thrives on that. On general principle I would deny her that.

But I also don't like pecan pie, so what do I know?
posted by nomadicink at 6:17 PM on October 19, 2010


You guys had a nice little country going there for a while.

When?
posted by fuq at 6:19 PM on October 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


But there's so much good there.

And bad. From Sam Harris: "Religious moderates are giving cover to fundamentalists because of the respect that moderates demand of faith-based talk. Religious moderation doesn’t allow us to say the really critical things we must say about the abject stupidity of religious fundamentalism. And as a result, it keeps fundamentalism in play, and fundamentalists make very cynical and artful use of the cover they’re getting by the political correctness in our discourse."
posted by Brocktoon at 6:28 PM on October 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


You guys had a nice little country going there for a while.

When?


OMG Reagan killed Communism all by hiself rambo style ARE YOU CALLING ME A LIAR
posted by Brocktoon at 6:30 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


All of this is settled and understood constitutional law. There is no legitimate point for her to make.

Sure, but it is still a different thing to accuse her of having a poor understanding of constitutional law, than to accuse her of simply having never heard the first amendment. The way people are talking about this hasn't been that they think her interpretation is stupid, but that they think she is just completely out of it and honestly wanted to know if the words being said were from the first amendment.

I admit I sometimes give people more credit than they deserve, and perhaps she really is just totally high. I don't know, and don't care that much, given that I disagree with her anyway, plus I'm not in delaware. But I'd rather people tried to get her to clarify her point at the time, instead of just laughing and making assumptions...
posted by mdn at 6:30 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


But I'd rather people tried to get her to clarify her point at the time, instead of just laughing and making assumptions...

If anything, that's her own damn fault, trying to score points on her debate opponent. Let's say we give her the benefit of the doubt and she really knew what she was talking about. Further, let's go beyond that benefit into a full-on charity cause and she wanted to raise the point in good faith. Assuming all of that, she had the opportunity to explore the issue of church-state separation with as much nuance as the moderator's clock would allow. Instead, she tried to fire off a smug sound bite and made herself look like the village idiot in the process — and rightfully so.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:46 PM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is basic shit. "Senator" is not an entry level job.
posted by malocchio at 6:48 PM on October 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


Except mdm she was later asked for her opinions of repealing the 14th and 16th amendments and said she had no idea what they were. She admits to not having memorized the constitution, so arguing that she was stuck on a literal reading is ridiculous.
posted by humanfont at 6:49 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Back when I was just getting started in politics, an old pol said to me, "In a two-way race, Bozo the Clown will get 35 points."

How true this is. I hunger for the races where Republicans get less than thirty five points or lose by less than 100 votes. Those are the best.
posted by warbaby at 6:52 PM on October 19, 2010


I know I'm not the first to point this out, but how is this any more "postworthy" than the deleted post?
posted by John Cohen at 7:06 PM on October 19, 2010


> I know I'm not the first to point this out, but how is this any more "postworthy" than the deleted post?

Attrition.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:08 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Humanfont and mdm, I think she thought that since freedom of speech is more closely associated with the First Amendment, the Establishment Clause must be in another one. That's what I get from the way she emphasizes "the First Amendment?". And her smug look suggests she thinks she outsmarted him on something, caught him in a technicality, like that he got the wrong amendment.

So my guess is that in her week-long conservative constitution band camp, she learned the phraseology of the Establishment clause, and the conservative arguments against treating it as separation of church and state, but didn't get the location.
posted by condour75 at 7:09 PM on October 19, 2010


She thinks the constitution IS the Bible. Coupla holy documents written before she was born ... eh, same difference. She hasn't read either of them.

The Republican candidates who win their elections don't actually write their own policy or make any of their own decisions. The people who call the shots don't need to run for office. That's what they pay the candidates to do, and why they don't want anyone who can construct a coherent argument anywhere near an elected office.
posted by mneekadon at 7:09 PM on October 19, 2010


I know I'm not the first to point this out, but how is this any more "postworthy" than the deleted post?

Please see the earlier comment re: Whack-a-Mole.
posted by jessamyn at 7:12 PM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think any thread that Numero Uno posts in should be delete resistant.
posted by found missing at 7:19 PM on October 19, 2010


I now place Jenny McCarthy, Sarah Palin, and Christine O'Donnell in the same category.

People who have no knowledge about what they speak or do.

Wow. I can't believe she said that at a law school.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:26 PM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


The World Famous,

Let me make this as clear as I can: Who on earth are you talking to? It can't possibly be me, since I have said nothing about "protecting wildly irrational religious beliefs from any criticisms" or about "making these beliefs immune to rational examination."

You said earlier:

Meh. I think it's generally inappropriate to make someone's religion a target as part of opposing their candidacy for political office. But that doesn't seem to stop anyone on the right or the left, including people on Metafilter, from doing so with respect to candidates of religions they don't like.

Here's the deal: there are some religions that are part of the larger culture, and for that reason alone, there are above criticism in a pragmatic sense but not a philosophical sense. The supernaturalism of the New Testament and the brutality and racism of the Old Testament, due to their age, take them off of the proverbial radar.

New and fringe religions are different. If Coons stood up and said he believed that Zeus was the king of the Gods, and demanded that everyone bring a piece of gold to the highest mountain near Washington to avoid persecution, people would mock him for being ignorant. But what they really mean to mock him for is being deluded by supernaturalism that is no longer popular.

Now, because you're a Mormon, you get your feelings hurt when people make fun of it. Well, if you want to be a Mormon in 2010, that's part of the deal. Your church believes that homosexuality is immoral, and they spend millions to pass laws against it. Your church also asserts that there were horse riding, iron wielding tribes of Israel in the New World before the arrival of Columbus. You continue your voluntary association with that Church, so why should I assume that you don't hold those same views? This is, by the way, skating right by some more distressing features of Mormonism in the 70s and beyond.

And this is the way most religions work. Catholics, thankfully, no longer torture people to death for denying Christ. Orthodox Jews do not stone adulterers (I think due to some law around the time of Christ). There are no Aztecs ripping hearts out of living people to make the sun rise. As secular society has progressed beyond the moral teachings of these religions, these religions have been civilized. In a hundred years, it will be a little easier to be a Mormon, because the church will have further abandoned the core ideas of Joseph Smith in order to stay relevant. Likewise, it was easier to be a Christian in the fourth century, since it had an official state sponsor and had adopted pagan holidays.

Religions are liberalized by society. That's the way it works, most of the time.

So, in one way, I understand why you're upset, but you have no right to be. If a politician professes a religion that believes in bringing about the apocalypse so their savior can return to earth to redeem mankind, yes, that will give me pause, as every Christian and Muslim does. Furthermore, if someone holds an alliance to some God that is more important to them than their duties to me as my representative in government, and/or their service to the Constitution, I have a right to know about it, and I will mock them if I feel so inclined. Period. End of story.
posted by notion at 7:35 PM on October 19, 2010 [44 favorites]


All in all I'm just really truly glad that at least she's not from the south. We get enough shit as is, a lot of which is deserved but hey once in a while someone from a northern state out dumbshits us.
posted by nola at 7:37 PM on October 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


Zilch!
Mr. Paladino, Mr. Carl Paladino
Mr. Paladino, Mr. Carl Paladino
Mr. Paladino, Mr. Carl Paladino
Mr. Paladino, Mr. Carl Paladino

Zilch!
Sharron Angle thinks you aren't Hispanic
Sharron Angle thinks you aren't Hispanic
Sharron Angle thinks you aren't Hispanic
Sharron Angle thinks you aren't Hispanic

Zilch!
Nevermind the rule of law, cuff him for Joe Miller
Nevermind the rule of law, cuff him for Joe Miller
Nevermind the rule of law, cuff him for Joe Miller
Nevermind the rule of law, cuff him for Joe Miller

Zilch!
Christine O'Donnell hasn't read the First Amendment ever
Christine O'Donnell hasn't read the First Amendment ever
Christine O'Donnell hasn't read the First Amendment ever
Christine O'Donnell hasn't read the First Amendment ever

(ref)
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:43 PM on October 19, 2010 [25 favorites]


well joey micheals, that was really, really strange
posted by angrycat at 7:54 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I never realized people were so sensitive about potted plants. Sheesh.
posted by Dark Messiah at 7:55 PM on October 19, 2010


There's a certain segment of the electorate that would believe Ms. O'Donnell to be correct because the phrase "separation of church and state" does not actually appear in the text of the 1st Amendment. Those people should be put in a sack and beaten with sticks.
posted by electroboy at 7:57 PM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


On the upside one of the earlier wikipedia links posted ( Separation of Church and State )
led me (via the footnotes) to this cited article:
The Framers and the Faithful: How modern evangelicals are ignoring their own history, By Steven Waldman, Washington Monthly
"It is ironic, then, that evangelicals--so focused on the "true" history--have neglected their own. Indeed, the one group that would almost certainly oppose the views of 21st-century evangelicals are the 18th-century evangelicals. John Leland was no anomaly. In state after state, when colonists and Americans met to debate the relationship between God and government, it was the proto-evangelica1s who pushed the more radical view that church and state should be kept far apart. Both secular liberals who sneer at the idea that evangelicals could ever be a positive influence in politics and Christian conservatives who want to knock down the "wall" should take note: It was the 18th-century evangelicals who provided the political shock troops for Jefferson and Madison in their efforts to keep government from strong involvement with religion. Modern evangelicals are certainly free to take a different course, but they should realize that in doing so they have dramatically departed from the tradition of their spiritual forefathers. "
Or if you're rolling your eyes at the thought of learning about the history thing (and it consistently amazed me how many Christians don't bother to sit down and read not only the religious texts but the history of various denominations besides their own - yet decide to lecture others) (that snarky aside is to no one here, merely thinking of past folks I actually know, in you know, meatspace, where I was on the receiving end of said lecture) - here's an epic bit of trivia in the article:
"Thomas Jefferson stood, dressed in a black suit, in a doorway of the White House on Jan. 1, 1802, watching a bizarre spectacle. Two horses were pulling a dray carrying a 1,235-pound cheese--just for him. Measuring 4 feet in diameter and 17 inches in height, this cheese was the work of 900 cows. More impressive than the size of the cheese was its eloquence. Painted on the red crust was the inscription: "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God." The cheese was a gift from religious leaders in western Massachusetts."
Now I must research further, in hopes of finding out more.
About the cheese of course.
posted by batgrlHG at 7:58 PM on October 19, 2010 [10 favorites]


Again: When Christine O'Donnell uses the word 'witch' or 'witchcraft,' she is not talking about a religion, fringe or otherwise. She is talking about a manufactured scare based on a falsified memoir from the 80s that Evangelicals used to terrify one another about the depravity of American culture. Making fun of Christine O'Donnell's use of the word 'witch' or 'witchcraft' is not at the expense of any practicing wiccans or anyone else except Christine O'Donnell and other extremely naive American Christians who believe in a boogeyman that has been entirely debunked.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:00 PM on October 19, 2010 [16 favorites]


A++++ to Joey Michaels for obscure Monkees reference!
posted by triggerfinger at 8:00 PM on October 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


WHOA more great info on Christine O'Donnell! Thanks for this, I'm going to use it to sway Delaware voters. Also it's great that media attention (and apparently MF attention) is so focused on her and not in any of the other close races!
posted by hamida2242 at 8:01 PM on October 19, 2010


This certainly isn't the best 200+ comment thread MF has had but I'd recommend everyone at least skim it and see what your favorite posters are saying. This is as close as you'll get until the next Palin thread after all.
posted by hamida2242 at 8:04 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's true, the phrase "separation of church and state" doesn't appear in the First Amendment. Much like the word "guns" doesn't appear in the Second, nor the phrase "accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior" in the Bible.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:04 PM on October 19, 2010 [37 favorites]


I think I have to stay out of these political threads from now til I don't know whenever. I'm old, I need to watch my blood pressure.
posted by angrycat at 8:06 PM on October 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Well, you don't have to worry about Tea Partiers getting the idea in their heads that this anything other than liberal spin, and that O'Donnell is the clear constitutional scholar here.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:07 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Brocktoon: "From Sam Harris: "Religious moderates are giving cover to fundamentalists because..."

Speaking as a progressive Christian, let me state this is clearly as I possibly can. I love Jesus - and I don't believe that any atheist anywhere in the world can possibly fathom the anger and bitterness that I experience when I watch the Palins and O'Donnell's of the world abuse my holy book for cheap political gains. Christian fundamentalists are stomping on my faith tradition every day of the year. They are taking the thing that I love most in the world and spitting on it - and laughing at me while they do it. Before you climb onto some golden pedestal of skepticism and level your steely gaze at the cautious, caring Christians in this country - know that many of us harbor a resentment toward the Christian right that you couldn't begin to fathom. Speaking personally, at times it certainly slips into outright hatred. I'm not Jesus, I'll spend the rest of my life trying to past some of the things that have been said and done in the name of my faith over the past ten years. But to accuse us of enforcing politically correct moderation in this debate - to me it is no different than the Republicans decrying the "lack of denunciation of terrorism" on the part of moderate Muslims. I do command a pulpit on Sundays and I have never held back from denouncing the bubbling bigotry that spews out the fundamentalists. And I'm not alone.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:23 PM on October 19, 2010 [55 favorites]


Hilarity really did ensue.
posted by dazed_one at 8:23 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


That was awesome, Joey Michaels. And I know I'm not the only mefite who knew what you were referencing without the reference.
posted by queensissy at 8:25 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


> Well, you don't have to worry about Tea Partiers getting the idea in their heads that this anything other than liberal spin, and that O'Donnell is the clear constitutional scholar here:

"That's the mistake many of us conservatives make: We assume everybody knows what we know. We assume everybody is as informed as we are."

Wow. Well, Rush is good at what he does, I'll give him that.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:32 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, in one way, I understand why you're upset, but you have no right to be. If a politician professes a religion that believes in bringing about the apocalypse so their savior can return to earth to redeem mankind, yes, that will give me pause, as every Christian and Muslim does. Furthermore, if someone holds an alliance to some God that is more important to them than their duties to me as my representative in government, and/or their service to the Constitution, I have a right to know about it, and I will mock them if I feel so inclined. Period. End of story.

There are two problems I see with this assertion.

1. In your comment, you claim that "Thankfully, Catholics no longer burn people at the stake for believing in Christ." You further go on to say that this is because "religions are liberalized by society."

But what you overlook is that this liberalization is NOT A UNIFORM PROCESS. It is not as if suddenly one day, everyone who professes one religion suddenly wakes up and says "hosannah, we have seen the light." It is a gradual process -- and during that process, there will be believers in the faith who favor this liberalizing, and believers who do not. There are believers who campaign WITHIN the religion's insides in order to BRING ABOUT this liberalization.

Which means: at any given moment, the person who believes in the religion you may be mocking may BE one of those people seeking TO liberalize it. It also means that at the politician who professes a belief in a religion which may hold apocalyptic beliefs does not necessarily hold those specific apocalyptic beliefs themselves, and may in fact be actively in the process of opposing them. I agree that it makes sense to be concerned about a politician who expressly states that their duties to their religion are MORE important than their service to the government, but a politician who simply professes to a religion is NOT necessarily, by virtue of this admission, also claiming that that religion overrules their allegiance to the Constitution. In fact, for the majority of politicians who profess a religion, they confine the religious practice to their home life, and place their jobs in the public.

So I do not see that someone who simply professes to a given religion, no matter what that religion is, is any real cause for concern.

2. There is no such thing as a person "not having the right to be upset." Period. End of story.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:42 PM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


For the record: I notice now that I only pulled out a quote about "catholics burning people at the stake" and not any other of notion's examples. I was just pulling out a single for-instance rather than singling out any "oh noes he was talking about Catholics".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:46 PM on October 19, 2010


hamida2242, FWIW, I've been trying here without any headway to tell people about the WV race, which is unjustifiably close and horrifying.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:57 PM on October 19, 2010


Does it have any witches? No? Not interested.
posted by found missing at 8:58 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]




Empress,

There are believers who campaign WITHIN the religion's insides in order to BRING ABOUT this liberalization.

In the context of this thread, of evolution versus creationism, we are literally talking about scientific fact versus mysticism. Should we educate our children that science is subject to meddling by religious figures? On an equally important issue, how many people must die from AIDS for the Pope to decide he's on the wrong side of condom usage in Latin America and Africa? We are not discussing some hypothetical consequences here. This is the real business of politics. So, if you profess to be a Catholic (to stay with one sect), I need to know that from time to time you're going to ignore what the Pope believes if science or simple human dignity and morality says otherwise.

I think Mitt Romney has some really good ideas, but he's not going to renounce the past teaching of his church -- that occurred within his lifetime, by the way -- because of the consequences he would face from fellow followers. Christine O'Donnell continues to claim that her personal beliefs are irrelevant, but until she states publicly that her belief in God is less important than her duty to the Laws of our government, she doesn't deserve the privilege of being in it.

Let's get down to bare brass here: say a Wahabbi Muslim was running for President. He attended a hardline extremist mosque for a decade whose Imam publicly declared that the Great Satan should be punished with destruction for it's amoral culture, and subject to Sharia Law. If the candidate said, "Gee, I'm trying to liberalize our faith. I don't really think any of that is true," is that going to cut the slightest bit of mustard? This is a ridiculous example, but illustrates that, at some point, a person's religion is a completely valid reason not to vote for them.

I'm not saying O'Donnell is anywhere near that dangerous. But maybe she's Timothy McVeigh dangerous. Maybe she's Eric Rudolph dangerous. Until she can make some rational statements about her faith, I wouldn't take the chance.

2. There is no such thing as a person "not having the right to be upset." Period. End of story.

Point taken. Perhaps I should rephrase with: Religiously inspired ignorance is open to the same criticism as any other form of ignorance.
posted by notion at 9:21 PM on October 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


You guys had a nice little country going there for a while.

Like in the upcoming election in Toronto?
posted by ovvl at 9:22 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


palin/o'donnell in 2012!!!!!!
posted by pyramid termite at 9:31 PM on October 19, 2010


Orthodox Jews do not stone adulterers (I think due to some law around the time of Christ).

My understanding is that stoning someone to death in actual practice during ancient times was only done extremely rarely, because the laws that allowed it to be enacted as a punishment were coupled with detailed procedural requirements. Despite what's written about people being stoned in the Talmud, the law seems to have been more of a behavioural deterrent than anything else.

Anyway, those legal requirements can't be fulfilled in modern times, so no stonings.

For instance, stoning someone to death was only possible through a ruling from a Sanhedrin High Court in the Temple in Jerusalem. The same Temple that was destroyed for a second and final time in 70 CE by the Romans.

That said, IANATS (Talmudic Scholar,) so I could be completely wrong.
posted by zarq at 9:34 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


We are not discussing some hypothetical consequences here. This is the real business of politics. So, if you profess to be a Catholic (to stay with one sect), I need to know that from time to time you're going to ignore what the Pope believes if science or simple human dignity and morality says otherwise.

Well, the one time we had a Catholic President, he seemed to do just fine in that regard. So I'm not seeing the cause for concern by someone simply asserting a religious identity.

Mind you, I'm speaking strictly of someone simply saying "I am Catholic" or "I am Muslim" or "I am Pastafarian" or what have you. If they THEN go on to say "and therefore I plan to work towards making abortion illegal" or "and therefore I will go on to re-instill compulsory prayer in school" or "and therefore I will convert our economy to one that is piracy-based and use a press gang system to draft pirates from amongst you landlubbers," that'd be something else again -- then it is a clearly expressed statement of intent to INSTILL those beliefs among others, and that's very different from just announcing a given personal identity.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:34 PM on October 19, 2010


"That's the mistake many of us conservatives make: We assume everybody knows what we know. We assume everybody is as informed as we are."

I've often wondered if extremist neoconservative strategy can just be boiled down to "I know that I'm talking out of my ass, but if I keep spewing bullshit as loudly as possible, perhaps I'll alter reality in my favor."
posted by zarq at 9:39 PM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


> I've often wondered if extremist neoconservative strategy can just be boiled down to "I know that I'm talking out of my ass

That, and (especially Limbaugh) they are very adept at making asymmetrical comparisons that are at best orthogonal to the issue, but they make up the difference with a solid burst of harumph.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:45 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Every time I see something about O'Donnell, I think about this recent quotation from Jon Stewart:
"The last thing that I would suggest is that her witchcraft or masturbation stance should be what we should be thinking about or focusing on, and I think that's an enormous mistake that the Democrats will make. We like to sit around the office and we have a little game called 'How will the Democrats blow it?' And that's the way they'll do it. They'll think somehow that that will resonate with voters, that 20 years ago Christine O'Donnell on MTV said 'Masturbation is a sin.' And they'll play it, and they'll ridicule it, and the voters will be like, 'Yeah, I don't have a job.' That's how they'll blow it."
posted by chrisamiller at 9:45 PM on October 19, 2010 [18 favorites]


'we' are not waging a multi-pronged war with any Christians, and the power of our military or partisan propaganda machines are not at the throats of Christians in any way... there is no concerted "Christianophobic movement". No one suggests we must "keep our eyes on" billions of Christians, regardless of affiliation, opinions on important issues or liberalism.
Today.

For much of the nineteenth century, Catholics in America were the unassimilated, sometimes violent “religious other.” Often they did not speak English or attend public schools. Some of their religious women—nuns—wore distinctive clothing. Their religious practices and beliefs—from rosaries to tran- substantiation—seemed to many Americans superstitious nonsense. Most worrisome, Catholics seemed in- sufficiently grateful for their ability to build churches and worship in a democracy, rights sometimes denied to Protestants and Jews in Catholic countries, notably Italy.

In the 1840s and 1850s these anxieties about Catholicism in American society turned violent, resulting in mob attacks on priests and churches as well as the formation of a major political party, the American Party, dedicated to combating Catholic influence. This led to novel claims that the US Constitution imposed an absolute separation of church and state—claims that stem not from Thomas Jefferson and George Washington but from nineteenth-century politicians, ministers, and editors worried that adherents of a hierarchical Catholicism might destroy the hard-won achievements of American democracy. In 1875, a decade after accepting General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, President Ulysses S. Grant publicly warned that Catholicism might prove as divisive in American society as the Confederacy.

Like many American Muslims today, many American Catholics squirmed when their foreign-born religious leaders offered belligerent or tone-deaf pronouncements on the modern world. New York’s own Bishop John Hughes thundered in 1850 that the Church’s mission was to convert “the Officers of the Navy and the Marines, commander of the Army, the legislatures, the Senate, the Cabinet, the President and all.” The Syllabus of Errors, promulgated by Pope Pius IX in 1864, denied that the Church had any duty to reconcile itself with “progress, liberalism, and modern civilization.”
posted by infinite intimation at 9:54 PM on October 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Thanks for not whacking this mole, mods. And thanks, phaedon, for popping it up.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 10:07 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


So, in one way, I understand why you're upset, but you have no right to be.

Upset? What are you talking about?

Well, if you want to be a Mormon in 2010, that's part of the deal. Your church believes that homosexuality is immoral, and they spend millions to pass laws against it. Your church also asserts that there were horse riding, iron wielding tribes of Israel in the New World before the arrival of Columbus. You continue your voluntary association with that Church, so why should I assume that you don't hold those same views? This is, by the way, skating right by some more distressing features of Mormonism in the 70s and beyond.

Do you really have no idea what Catholicism and most other mainstream Judeo-Christian world religions believe or what they have believed "in the 70s and beyond," or do you just like concentrating on Mormonism for some reason? Seriously. Are you under some delusion that the Catholic church and other churches that you claim are "off the proverbial radar" do not believe that homosexual conduct is immoral or that the Catholic church did not spend millions to pass laws against same-sex marriage? Are you unaware of the completely insane current beliefs of the Catholic church and virtually every other mainstream Church in the United States today? Are you unaware of the "more distressing" features of Catholicism to this day? It's in the news all the time. How could you have missed it?

And this is the way most religions work. Catholics, thankfully, no longer torture people to death for denying Christ. Orthodox Jews do not stone adulterers (I think due to some law around the time of Christ). There are no Aztecs ripping hearts out of living people to make the sun rise. As secular society has progressed beyond the moral teachings of these religions, these religions have been civilized. In a hundred years, it will be a little easier to be a Mormon, because the church will have further abandoned the core ideas of Joseph Smith in order to stay relevant.

No, I mean, seriously here, do you have no idea what any religion in the world actually believes and does? You're equating Mormonism's involvement with Prop 8 with the Catholic church's torturing people to death, but the Catholic church gets a pass with you for engaging in exactly the same conduct as Mormonism with regard to same-sex marriage? You're comparing anything that Mormons have ever done in their history to Aztecs ripping hearts out of living people to make the sun rise? There is absolutely no rational reason to attack a political candidate for being Mormon if you're not going to attack every single other candidate who claims to be religious and whose religion holds any similar beliefs to those you find objectionable or whose religion has done something in the last 50 years that you think is as bad as what you think Mormonism has done in that same time frame. Did you and do you continue to attack Barack Obama for his professed religious beliefs about same-sex marriage? How about his other professed religious beliefs or the beliefs and actions of the religion with which he associates himself?

I said nothing - nothing about my religion. Not a single word. But because you happen to know what my religion is and because you don't like it, you take that as license to attack what you presume to be my religious beliefs - beliefs that are totally irrelevant to the discussion.

Look, you don't like Mormonism? Fine. You want to pretend that everything I say regarding religion in politics is motivated entirely by some Mormon agenda? Well, you're incorrect and no rational interpretation of anything I have said in this thread could lead to the conclusion to which you so zealously jumped. Again, I have said nothing about "protecting wildly irrational religious beliefs from any criticisms" or about "making these beliefs immune to rational examination."

I don't disagree that my religion has made serious mistakes and done some things that I strongly disagree with. But being a Mormon in 2010 means having people like you single me out and ignorantly attack me based on the ridiculous notion that anything that the Mormon church has ever done or believed is one bit more ridiculous or offensive than what other mainstream churches have done and believed during exactly the same time period. It means having a political right wing full of snake-handling Evangelists tell me I'm crazy and a political left wing that puts Catholics into office without a second thought but then tells me that my church is bad because it believes homosexual sex is a sin (seriously, do you have no idea what Catholics believe?).

Like I said above with regard to attacking religious candidates based on their religion, "I have never seen anyone who was genuinely an equal opportunity attacker in that respect."

Also, seriously, you said "I'm not saying O'Donnell is anywhere near that dangerous. But maybe she's Timothy McVeigh dangerous. Maybe she's Eric Rudolph dangerous. Until she can make some rational statements about her faith, I wouldn't take the chance." Seriously? You really think she might be plotting to blow people up?
posted by The World Famous at 10:12 PM on October 19, 2010


Are you under some delusion that the Catholic church and other churches that you claim are "off the proverbial radar" do not believe that homosexual conduct is immoral or that the Catholic church did not spend millions to pass laws against same-sex marriage?

I will be one of many who will be happy to see both your church and the Catholic Church in front of a federal judge and your tax-exempt status stripped for taking away our rights, if that's the equivalence you're making.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:15 PM on October 19, 2010 [26 favorites]


[not gonna worry without] a clearly expressed statement of intent to INSTILL those beliefs among others

I prefer the tack PM Paul Martin took. He's solidly Catholic and made no bones about his feelings toward abortion. He also made it clear that his religious beliefs had no place in determining the laws of Canada and that he would not bring abortion rights battles to the Commons.

Unless a religious politician makes such a clear statement of intent, it is foolish to trust them to keep their faith beliefs private.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:35 PM on October 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


The oddest thing to me about Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell's "I Was A Teenage Witch" claims is that so much of the reaction has accepted her claim that such a thing might be possible.

It is not. Her claims of "dabbling" in what she called "witchcraft" are not true. The supposed witchcraft she describes is not something that exists. Such stories of bloody altars and Satanic covens are common and they are false. All of them. That is a matter of established fact.

The supposed witchery O'Donnell describes is simply the stuff of Satanic panic urban legends. Her descriptions come straight out of the fabrications of proven liar and con-man Mike Warnke. He made this stuff up. Her claims are about as credible as if she had said that she once conjured Bloody Mary by repeating her name three times in the bathroom mirror.

"I dabbled into witchcraft. I hung around people who were doing these things," she said. This is not true. The wholly imaginary form of Satan-worshipping "witchcraft" in which O'Donnell claimed to have dabbled has never actually existed. You can't dabble in things that don't exist.

That Christine O'Donnell would repeat such well-established lies as facts -- embellishing them with additional patently false claims of first-hand experience -- is not surprising. Her entire political career has taken place within the strand of the evangelical Christian anti-abortion movement that is driven and shaped by this very same late-20th Century variant of the medieval blood libel. These imaginary Satanic baby killers form the core of her identity -- they are the Other against whom she has always defined herself. They are the enemy in contrast to whom O'Donnell and her supporters are able to feel good and righteous and special. That these enemies do not, in fact, exist -- that they have never, in fact, existed -- only highlights the desperate insecurity of O'Donnell and her witch-hunting comrades.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:38 PM on October 19, 2010 [18 favorites]


That's fine, BP.
posted by The World Famous at 10:39 PM on October 19, 2010


Back to the topic, wouldja all just give Christine O'Donnell a break? The poor thing hasn't masturbated OR gotten laid since 1993.

I bet you'd find it hard to focus on your studies, too.
posted by msalt at 10:44 PM on October 19, 2010


I never realized people were so sensitive about potted plants. Sheesh.

I never realized people whose opinions I like and respect enjoy Ted Rall, one of the laziest and most facile hacks to ever hack out lazy and facile hackery, albeit with that way-cool Gen X attitude.

Blech, guys.

Just blech.

Give the Radiolab episode 'The Stans' a listen (no working link found, from 2003). Rall hosts an extreme tourism junket to various foreign countries. It never fails to prompt a listener to ask "Who the hell is this asshole tour guide?"


If it's anything like Rall's books on Central Asia - and I'm sure it is - it's probably not worth it. Silk Road to Ruin and the other one are basically Ahmed Rashid For Smug Fuck Dummies.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:46 PM on October 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


Navelgazer: "We are living in an era where a large and powerful portion of the populace doesn't understand that their most fundamental beliefs are actually remnants of a simple and very recent oral tradition with no accountability, and their party is pointing to anyone quoting the source material as "the enemy.""

Coincidentally, I just came across this relevant study today.
posted by yiftach at 11:06 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


With no disrespect to the artists, I am trying to prepare myself to never want to hear this song again pending the play I anticipate it getting in the 2012 election season.
posted by Graygorey at 11:15 PM on October 19, 2010


five fresh fish: Unless a religious politician makes such a clear statement of intent, it is foolish to trust them to keep their faith beliefs private.

O'Donnell has indeed made such a statement of intent, or at least she's stated that she will be guided by the Constitution and not by her faith if she becomes a senator. Whether there's any basis for trusting her even after she's made a boilerplate statement of that kind (and after she's publicly displayed such ignorance of what the Constitution means and stands for) is another matter.

The World Famous: But being a Mormon in 2010 means having people like you single me out and ignorantly attack me based on the ridiculous notion that anything that the Mormon church has ever done or believed is one bit more ridiculous or offensive than what other mainstream churches have done and believed during exactly the same time period.

I'm not attacking Mormonism. My father was a Mormon, and so were his parents and grandparents and so on, so I have more than a passing knowledge of the church. I also have serious problems with notion's seeming assertion that Mormonism is somehow a "fringe" religion or less civilized or more oppressive than Catholicism and Orthodox Judaism and other older-line religions for ..... well, who knows what the reasoning is.

But I'm mystified that you're defending the church on the basis that what it's done in the past and in the present is no worse than anything any other religion has done. Is that really something that recommends it as a religion? Should I join the church because it's no worse than other churches, or because it's the only church that's worth joining, which is what I'm sure the church leadership would want me to believe?
posted by blucevalo at 11:29 PM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not that I could join the church anyway unless I renounced my homosexuality, but that's another story.
posted by blucevalo at 11:31 PM on October 19, 2010


But I'm mystified that you're defending the church on the basis that what it's done in the past and in the present is no worse than anything any other religion has done.

I'm defending the church? I didn't think that's what I was doing. In fact, I specifically acknowledged that "I don't disagree that my religion has made serious mistakes and done some things that I strongly disagree with." To the extent that my comment might be described as "defending the church," it was only such in the context of addressing the stupidity and ignorance of notion's attack.

Is that really something that recommends it as a religion?

No. It's not.

Should I join the church because it's no worse than other churches, or because it's the only church that's worth joining, which is what I'm sure the church leadership would want me to believe?

Did I say you should join the church? I don't think I did. I was addressing notion's ridiculous attack.

Not that I could join the church anyway unless I renounced my homosexuality, but that's another story.

That depends on what you mean by "renounced [your] homosexuality," I think. But that is, indeed, another story.
posted by The World Famous at 11:42 PM on October 19, 2010


five fresh fish: I prefer the tack PM Paul Martin took. He's solidly Catholic and made no bones about his feelings toward abortion. He also made it clear that his religious beliefs had no place in determining the laws of Canada and that he would not bring abortion rights battles to the Commons.

Quick tangent: man, I loved PM--he was, to my recollection anyways, the PM most open to media, questioning, etc. and I really respected him when he made that statement. Of course, just because someone says so, doesn't mean they're going to do it, but I honestly felt that he meant it. The guy didn't get a fair chance, and it was mostly thanks to Chretien's Sponsorship Scandal that burned him, even though he was pretty much against Chretien.
/tangent
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:44 PM on October 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


From Sam Harris: "Religious moderates are giving cover to fundamentalists because..."

This has always been a ridiculous position for Harris for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that many positions which are ridiculous (and more relevantly, intolerable in a civil setting) are respectable in their moderate form. Taxation is a burden, but it isn't theft (nor is property, for that matter). Speech should be free, but not free from any other consideration. People should have the right to bear arms, but not without regulation.

Now, because you're a Mormon, you get your feelings hurt when people make fun of it.

Were we talking about "making fun" here? Or were we talking about critically engaging beliefs? There's a difference.

Right:

"TWF, we're discussing gay marriage. How do you reconcile the right everyone should have to form a home with whoever they like with your church's doctrine and recent political efforts?"

Wrong:

"Ha ha, pre-colonial horses, TWF? Funny underwear? Fucking homophobes."

You continue your voluntary association with that Church, so why should I assume that you don't hold those same views?

The fact is, even in cases like the Catholics and Mormons where there's a fairly clear hierarchy of authority, people often don't believe what you think they'd believe. There are official beliefs of many churches that individual members don't hold, sometimes because they don't know about them, sometimes because they don't care about them, sometimes because they flat out reject them, sometimes because they've picked a different side or resolution than you might expect when trying to resolve contradictions in official history or canon. Even where they more or less do believe in what the church teaches, they sometimes don't in various shades.

Then there's the fact that approximate conception you have of a given religious belief may not be an accurate reflection of how it's understood by individual members (and it's almost guaranteed to not be a subtle one). Also, without engaging them, you can't know whether or not they've encountered various objections to their beliefs and how they've processed or assimilated them. Nor will you know how an individual may (or may not) have separated their beliefs into different spheres of applicability.

You go this route, you're going to be putting Tom Monaghan and Daniel Berrigan in the same bin, measuring Laurel Thatcher Ulrich with the same stick you use for Orin Hatch. You're going to be extrapolating. Guessing.

There's some other words for this, but I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

On preview, also what EmpressCallipygos said.
posted by weston at 11:51 PM on October 19, 2010


Back when I was just getting started in politics, an old pol said to me, "In a two-way race, Bozo the Clown will get 35 points."
How true this is. I hunger for the races where Republicans get less than thirty five points or lose by less than 100 votes. Those are the best.
posted by warbaby at 9:52 PM on October 19 [+] [!]


I don't know if you're actually making an oblique reference to this bit of trivia or not, but it does spring to mind.
Bozo.
posted by zoinks at 1:45 AM on October 20, 2010


He also made it clear that his religious beliefs had no place in determining the laws of Canada...

Stockwell Day: "My religious beliefs do not affect my political policy, but I do think that Creationism should be taught in schools."
posted by ovvl at 4:42 AM on October 20, 2010


I think there's an equivalence to be drawn between Mormonism as a religion made up out of thin air in the 19th century and Wiccanism as a religion made up out of thin air in the 20th century but that really should have been done without bringing anyone's personal beliefs into it.
posted by XMLicious at 6:02 AM on October 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


There is absolutely no rational reason to attack a political candidate for being Mormon if you're not going to attack every single other candidate who claims to be religious and whose religion holds any similar beliefs to those you find objectionable or whose religion has done something in the last 50 years that you think is as bad as what you think Mormonism has done in that same time frame.

Without meaning to be flip, a salient difference between the LDS church or the RC church and, say, a random Baptist church is that the LDS and RC churches have strong organizational hierarchies to be obedient or disobedient to and claim to be something close to the exclusive path to salvation.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:20 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


she once conjured Bloody Mary by repeating her name three times in the bathroom mirror.


That's amazing. Usually, I have to pay a bartender to mix it for me.
posted by jonmc at 6:40 AM on October 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


One can only hope that she and other Tea Partiers would apply the rest of the Constitution with such rigor.

The bit about Congress needing to draft a declaration of War.
The 1940's decision about how a man, growing grain for his own use on his own farm was about interstate trade.

I'm sure the rest of you can think of a few things that sure do look like a violation of The Constitution. If there is a 'here's a list of violations so you can ask your local Tea Party' website - can someone post that link?

(Still trying to figure out how you go from nothing but gold/silver to the Federal Reserve buy debt at rate of $100 billion. Your money buying your bonds sounds like a fraud of some sort.)
posted by rough ashlar at 6:52 AM on October 20, 2010


Did I say you should join the church? I don't think I did. I was addressing notion's ridiculous attack.

I was trying to ask the question rhetorically, not literally. Fail on my part.

I long ago knew that I would always be known in my family as "that lapsed Mormon" and "that lapsed Catholic" and "that lapsed all-those-other-religions-I-dabbled-in-when-I-was-an-adolescent."
posted by blucevalo at 6:58 AM on October 20, 2010


It's true, the phrase "separation of church and state" doesn't appear in the First Amendment. Much like the word "guns" doesn't appear in the Second, nor the phrase "accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior" in the Bible

I'm actually not 100% sure which way you mean this, but just so we're all clear, there are certainly people out there who interpret the second amendment not to be about guns (they think it's about well-regulated militias), and the bible not to be about accepting Jesus as your personal lord and savior (they say something like, jesus is a perfect example, not a deity).
posted by mdn at 7:11 AM on October 20, 2010


I think the point was that it is hypocritical to interpret separation of church and state out of the first amendment when you're interpreting supports your own worldview into the second amendment and the Bible.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:20 AM on October 20, 2010


Ridiculing others religion is simply counter productive. Do you really think most Mormons/Christians/Wiccans havnt heard it all before? Also WTF is mainstream Christianity vs mormanism anyway? Are we talking Catholicism? Are we talking mainline Protestant? Babtists? Evangelical? Even within these sects there are huge discrepancies in views and opinions. I mean the episcopalians started ordaining women officially in the 1970s and the gay bishops in the 2000s. Are we free to subject them to additional ridicule for being outside the mainstream? What about the Unitarian Universalists? Mocking a persons religious views is pretty shitty, it only pisses them off. We are better off discussing values and behaviors. One can more readily change behaviors than faith. Look at what's been accomplished in civil rights. If we'd tried to tear down the religion of the southern cause we never would have gotten as far as we have. As the behaviors changed the practices of the old southern traditions started to fade (well a bit).
posted by humanfont at 7:28 AM on October 20, 2010


Hm - cute, but each case is individual... it would then be just as hypocritical for someone to believe the second amendment is not about guns and the first amendment is about the separation of church and state.
posted by mdn at 7:30 AM on October 20, 2010


scody: "Perhaps they didn't teach her the First Amendment at Witch School."

The real Wiccans I know are actually really big on the First Amendment.

O'Donnell is just a dilettante. By the next election, she'll probably be a Scientologist.
posted by QIbHom at 7:32 AM on October 20, 2010


I spent about an hour last night trying to understand this argument by entertaining a dialogue with an actual libertarian on Facebook. He supported O'Donnell's argument with the following rationale: Apparently there are two concepts of "separation of church and state." You see, the Jefferson-endorsed "separation of church and state" in the 1A Establishment Clause "only" meant that the government couldn't set up a state religion. The other "separation of church and state" to which O'Donnell was actually referring is separate doctrine entirely: it's an extra-constitutional doctrine of judicially-made federal common law created in 1947 in Everson.

And that's where I just threw my hands up in exasperation. But to his credit, it was a far more cogent argument than O'Donnell was making, so, there's that.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:42 AM on October 20, 2010


Saying Harris' position on moderates is ridiculous doesn't make it so, and trying to compare the dichotomy to other things is a specious argument. As long as the fundamentalists continue to exert their influence in all aspects of everyday life, the moderates will remain responsible. They believe in an afterlife, and you legitimize this belief, because it's also your own. Look at these completely silly texts that you both use to map out your entire existence. How can you ever hope to marginalize the fundamentalists when you both continue to think people go to hell if they say god's name with a bad attitude? If you aren't willing to take responsibility for the fringe that your belief system has created, then it's a pointless argument.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:48 AM on October 20, 2010


I had a roommate who was, at the time, Evengelical.

We had some now forgotten discussion about church, religion, and state. I adamantly pointed out that there is a separation of church and state within our country for good reason. She gave me the line about church and state being a Jeffersonian idea and not a constitutional idea and therefore it shouldn't be valid.

I gave her thePrince face and knew it would be futile to discuss this matter further.

Now this person is estranged from their parents, their in-laws, married, has a child, converted to Catholicism, and then decided to do away with Christianity, and recently came out as bisexual on National Coming Out Day.

Go figure.

But it never occurred to me that the Jefferson reference was part of Evangelical upbringing. It puts a lot of her discussion points in context.
posted by zizzle at 7:53 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't look a gift witch in the mouth
Give thanks. Hallelujia
posted by donfactor at 8:04 AM on October 20, 2010


blucevalo wrote: "My father was a Mormon, and so were his parents and grandparents and so on, so I have more than a passing knowledge of the church. I also have serious problems with notion's seeming assertion that Mormonism is somehow a "fringe" religion or less civilized or more oppressive than Catholicism and Orthodox Judaism and other older-line religions for ..... well, who knows what the reasoning is. "

Mormonism gets a lot of crap compared to "regular" Christianity because its relatively recent creation means that its nonsensical origins haven't been lost to the mists of time. We have relatively decent historical records in that time period, unlike 2000 years ago.

The fact that it sprung forth from one person's imagination is on display for all to see, while the origins of Judaism and Christianity are not. IMO, they're all just popular cults, but such is the hand we've been dealt. I don't really think less of people who claim to be adherents of a particular religion, although I do think less of those who attempt to use government to benefit their church or argue that their religious belief somehow trumps my non-belief.
posted by wierdo at 8:11 AM on October 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm actually not 100% sure which way you mean this

My point was that the fact that one specific word or phrase does not appear in a document does not automatically mean that the document is not about the concept expressed by that specific word or phrase. Doesn't automatically mean it is, either, as you rightly point out, but the absence of the specific word or phrase is not in and of itself evidence of that.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:27 AM on October 20, 2010


Also that many—not all—of the people who believe that the First Amendment doesn't require separation of church and state and point to the fact that that exact phrase isn't in there as justification for that belief have no problem believing that the Second Amendment is about guns, and that the Bible does require one to accept Jesus as one's personal Lord and Savior.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:34 AM on October 20, 2010


Mormonism gets a lot of crap compared to "regular" Christianity because its relatively recent creation means that its nonsensical origins haven't been lost to the mists of time. We have relatively decent historical records in that time period, unlike 2000 years ago

Weirdo that's just mainstream religious propaganda. The origins of most of the so called evangelical religious groups can be traced to the same period of American history (The Great Awakening) as Mormonism. Vatican II which redefined much of Catholicism was invented in the 1960s. The Methodists were started by John Wesley having visions in the 1700s. Even look at the origins of Hasidic Judaism or Salafist Islam and I think you'll find much of it is actually quite modern. The biggest most ridiculous situation is the modern mega church based on a the gospel of prosperity. These folks get embraced as mainstream, while Mitt Romney gets pilloried because he wears special underwear. Most of what passes for modern christian practice would be totally unrecognizable more than 500 years ago, and many of their practices would have been so heretical as to result in executions. The first myth we need to tear down is this view that any of the modern religions are anything more than recent inventions created by the same mass marketing machine that gave us Coke, Pepsi and the Twilight Saga. The claim by the Wiccans that they are connected to some ancient rite is as valid as any other faith group.
posted by humanfont at 8:41 AM on October 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


shakespeherian: ""Obama" appears in small letters on a desk sign at the bottom of the frame.

Ah, I missed that, thanks. Is there a reason that drawing 'insert black guy here' counts as depicting Obama
"

Well, Ted Rall's a crappy artist AND a crappy person, so probably both?
posted by ShawnStruck at 8:46 AM on October 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


brocktoon: Look at these completely silly texts that you both use to map out your entire existence. How can you ever hope to marginalize the fundamentalists when you both continue to think people go to hell if they say god's name with a bad attitude?

These "completely sill texts" constitute, arguably, the framework and foundation for most Western literature. You've also managed to dismiss, in an offhand sort of way, their importance to marginalized populations throughout history and around the world. Your next sentence reveals how anemic your understanding of American protestantism actually is. If you think that I (or, in fact, many fundamentalists) believe people "go to hell" for taking the Lord's name in vain - I would recommend talking to some actual Christians. Most of the members of my church - myself included - believe that Jesus died to save the whole world, no exceptions, and "hell" was a device utilized by 12th century Roman Catholic authorities to trick people into going to mass and purchasing indulgences. To borrow a metaphor from Dr. Laurel Schneider, to many of us, the biblical "hell" is a closet, from which we seek to liberate our marginalized brothers and sisters. If your reaction to this is, "Wow! How refreshing! A Christian who doesn't believe in hell!" then I can only conclude that your interactions with actual, flesh-and-blood American Christians has been limited to what you've heard from Sam Harris and Bill Maher.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:50 AM on October 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also that many—not all—of the people who believe that the First Amendment doesn't require separation of church and state and point to the fact that that exact phrase isn't in there as justification for that belief have no problem believing that the Second Amendment is about guns

As I said above, can't that just be turned around, into "people who believe the second amendment isn't about guns since it's not explicitly stated have no problem believing the first amendment is about separation of church and state"?

My point was that the fact that one specific word or phrase does not appear in a document does not automatically mean that the document is not about the concept expressed by that specific word or phrase. Doesn't automatically mean it is, either, as you rightly point out...

Well, if it doesn't automatically mean it is, then there is legitimate room for someone to make an argument against it...

I hate coming off like I'm defending Christine O'Donnell here. I did watch the video in full, and she seemed to be consistent (to be clear, I completely disagree with her interpretation, but it seemed to be the argument we've agreed is possible) until about the last 20 seconds when she just kept asking "that's in the first amendment?" and then let herself get cut off by something completely unrelated without clarifying her stance. That was very weird and did leave it seeming as if she was just confused.
posted by mdn at 8:51 AM on October 20, 2010


Well, Ted Rall's a crappy artist AND a crappy person, so probably both?

Heh. At NYCC he was soundly mocked for dropping out of a Web comics Vs Print debate without notice and with a crappy excuse, so I guess he's a crappy panelist too.
posted by Artw at 8:56 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


The fact that [Mormonism] sprung forth from one person's imagination is on display for all to see,

Not all his imagination - parts of it are from Masonic Ritual
posted by rough ashlar at 8:57 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Historically, populations marginalized and overrun by religious imperialists have found great solace and comfort in the religious texts of their conquerors.

That is my missionary position.
posted by found missing at 9:04 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


As I said above, can't that just be turned around, into "people who believe the second amendment isn't about guns since it's not explicitly stated have no problem believing the first amendment is about separation of church and state"?

If their sole reason for believing that the Second Amendment isn't about guns is the fact that the word "guns" doesn't appear in the Second Amendment, then yes, it could be turned around exactly the way you describe.

If they have additional reasons for believing that the Second Amendment isn't about guns, then it's certainly possible that those reasons are inapplicable to their understanding of the First Amendment.

Maybe I haven't been paying enough attention, but I have yet to hear any argument from those who claim the First Amendment doesn't require separation of church and state beyond "'separation of church and state' doesn't appear in the First Amendment." If they have additional reasons for believing that, then yes, it's possible to believe that and also that the Second Amendment is about guns without being hypocritical.

Well, if it doesn't automatically mean it is, then there is legitimate room for someone to make an argument against it...

Yes, absolutely. As long as that argument consists of more than "'separation of church and state' doesn't appear in the First Amendment" or "'guns' doesn't appear in the Second Amendment."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:11 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's not a good comparison; the meaning of the Second Amendment couldn't be any clearer.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:27 AM on October 20, 2010


According to this most Americans believe in hell.

"If your reaction to this is, "Wow! How refreshing! A Christian who doesn't believe in hell!" then I can only conclude that your interactions with actual, flesh-and-blood American Christians has been limited to what you've heard from Sam Harris and Bill Maher."

Yeah, no.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:44 AM on October 20, 2010


No, I mean, seriously here, do you have no idea what any religion in the world actually believes and does?
No, you're not being serious.
There is absolutely no rational reason to attack a political candidate for being Mormon if you're not going to attack every single other candidate who claims to be religious and whose religion holds any similar beliefs to those you find objectionable or whose religion has done something in the last 50 years that you think is as bad as what you think Mormonism has done in that same time frame. Did you and do you continue to attack Barack Obama for his professed religious beliefs about same-sex marriage? How about his other professed religious beliefs or the beliefs and actions of the religion with which he associates himself?
You can't skip over everything I said and expect to have a discussion: "If a politician professes a religion that believes in bringing about the apocalypse so their savior can return to earth to redeem mankind, yes, that will give me pause, as every Christian and Muslim does." As far as Obama is concerned, I have no evidence that he's an orthodox Christian, and I'm pretty sure he does the Church thing because this is America, and for political purposes you have to be religious to get the right number of votes. Perhaps I'm naive for thinking so, but in the context of this discussion, we're talking about a woman who thinks masturbation is wrong, and decided that was important enough to state publicly.

In the case of Mormonism and other new and/or fringe religions, there is usually even more overwhelming evidence that they are irrational. That's my point. To any outside observer, the more unfamiliar and new a religion is, the more credulous a person it for believing it. And like I said before, "what they really mean to mock [them] for is being deluded by supernaturalism that [isn't] popular."
...you take that as license to attack what you presume to be my religious beliefs - beliefs that are totally irrelevant to the discussion.
This argument does not hold. If your beliefs include denying me or any other person their rights as a US citizen, they are absolutely relevant.
Look, you don't like Mormonism? Fine. You want to pretend that everything I say regarding religion in politics is motivated entirely by some Mormon agenda? Well, you're incorrect
I didn't say that. But if you were running for office, whatever your religion, I would ask you to publicly declare that your personal beliefs will not be upheld in place of the laws of our government.
Again, I have said nothing about "protecting wildly irrational religious beliefs from any criticisms" or about "making these beliefs immune to rational examination."
Then what does this mean: "I think it's generally inappropriate to make someone's religion a target as part of opposing their candidacy for political office."
...being a Mormon in 2010 means having people like you single me out and ignorantly attack me based on the ridiculous notion that anything that the Mormon church has ever done or believed is one bit more ridiculous or offensive than what other mainstream churches have done and believed during exactly the same time period.
Mormonism was doctrinally racist from the days of Brigham Young until 1978, when it's tax status was threatened. Then, one of your elders had a miraculous revelation that black people weren't so bad after all. Forgive me, but I will never forget this fact. And you're right, it probably does make me biased. Sorry that reality has that effect on my brain.

But I also won't forget the fact that the Catholic Church protects pedophiles from secular justice around the world, or puts lives in danger through it's backwards beliefs on condoms and birth control. Nor will I forget the homophobia and hatred practiced by much of the Christian religion.

I think you have confused my personal viewpoints with my observation on why people single out the Mormon Church, or Wiccans, or Rastafarians, or whatever. In my opinion, any supernaturalist believer is suffering from similar supernaturalist delusions. Ask any one of those believers about specifics outside of their religious context, and you'll get a rational response. When I lived in the deeper South and had people proselytize me, I would ask them if they thought sickness could be driven out of people and into animals, which could then be sacrificed to cure illnesses. Not a single one of them said they believed it, until I told them it was in the Bible (Mark 5:11), and one of Jesus' purported miracles.

Seriously? You really think she might be plotting to blow people up?

I think Muslims, even Muslims who live in Iraq and Afghanistan and Iran, are people too. Does she take after Jerry Falwell, and want to "blow them away in the name of the Lord?" After a terrorist attack will she call for a Christian army to take back our Christian country, or punish "the terrorists" (wink wink) with our righteous army, God Bless America, His Will Be Done? That's the question.

And as minority sect of Christianity, it should be pretty damn important to you as well.
posted by notion at 10:21 AM on October 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


If a politician professes a religion that believes in bringing about the apocalypse so their savior can return to earth to redeem mankind, yes, that will give me pause, as every Christian and Muslim does.

I can't really tell from your employment of clauses: Are you saying that every Christian and Muslim politician gives you pause, or are you saying that every Christian and Muslim believes in bringing about the apocalypse so their savior can return to earth to redeem mankind?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:25 AM on October 20, 2010


humanfont wrote: "Weirdo that's just mainstream religious propaganda. The origins of most of the so called evangelical religious groups can be traced to the same period of American history (The Great Awakening) as Mormonism. "

Hey, I think they're all based on teh crazy, I'm just saying that the roots of Christianity (to choose one ancient religion that's popular today) go back so far that teh crazy isn't quite so plainly obvious. Yes, there have been more recent developments, but those are generally of more of a philosophical nature than a "God just spoke to me in my head" nature.

Certainly the Baptists I grew up around never claimed to have literally heard the voice of God. They were nuts, but didn't openly claim to have hallucinations. Not that I think that makes blind faith any better. If anything, it makes it worse.
posted by wierdo at 10:35 AM on October 20, 2010


I failed to mention that yes, I agree that modern evangelism is a special breed of wacko based not in rigorous religious thought but in control. I was more thinking of the non-megachurch folks. I think megachurches are more like conformist social clubs than anything else.
posted by wierdo at 10:37 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Saying Harris' position on moderates is ridiculous doesn't make it so, and trying to compare the dichotomy to other things is a specious argument.

Saying it's specious doesn't make it so.

They believe in an afterlife, and you legitimize this belief, because it's also your own.

Pretending you have any idea what my belief is or my motivation behind criticizing Harris' argument doesn't counter it either.
posted by weston at 11:02 AM on October 20, 2010


I didn't say that. But if you were running for office, whatever your religion, I would ask you to publicly declare that your personal beliefs will not be upheld in place of the laws of our government.

This is getting close to where I think the "Right Thing" is. I would argue that it's actually unavoidable that personal beliefs and values will affect governing decisions, and that it's both unjust and naive to ask people to make such a declaration.

But I think it's totally reasonable (and in fact highly desirable) to ask someone how their personal beliefs, including their religion, will shape their politics, and accept or reject a candidate based on how satisfied you are with their answers.


If a politician professes a religion that believes in bringing about the apocalypse so their savior can return to earth to redeem mankind, yes, that will give me pause

If I got a whiff of that from a candidate, I'd reject them as well.

as every Christian and Muslim does.

I know these people exist, and I agree it's good to be very wary of them, but I know plenty of Christians who are in no hurry to bring about the apocalypse and are content to let God handle the timeline, not to mention some who aren't sure John's Revelation should be considered canonical. The number of Muslim acquaintances I've made is much smaller, and they were arguably at least somewhat lapsed, but they seemed similarly more interested in their own lives than trying to wind down history.
posted by weston at 11:29 AM on October 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


These "completely sill texts" constitute, arguably, the framework and foundation for most Western literature. You've also managed to dismiss, in an offhand sort of way, their importance to marginalized populations throughout history and around the world. Your next sentence reveals how anemic your understanding of American protestantism actually is. If you think that I (or, in fact, many fundamentalists) believe people "go to hell" for taking the Lord's name in vain - I would recommend talking to some actual Christians. Most of the members of my church - myself included - believe that Jesus died to save the whole world, no exceptions, and "hell" was a device utilized by 12th century Roman Catholic authorities to trick people into going to mass and purchasing indulgences. To borrow a metaphor from Dr. Laurel Schneider, to many of us, the biblical "hell" is a closet, from which we seek to liberate our marginalized brothers and sisters. If your reaction to this is, "Wow! How refreshing! A Christian who doesn't believe in hell!" then I can only conclude that your interactions with actual, flesh-and-blood American Christians has been limited to what you've heard from Sam Harris and Bill Maher.

American Protestantism is marginalized? Wha?

It doesn't matter if you believe it or not. The fundamentalists sure do, and you're both reading the same book. I must have missed the "just kidding!" part about eternal damnation in the bible. "The bible doesn't mean this, it means this!" Why? Based on what? Supernatural theory? Prayer? A revelation? Certainly not serious scientific examination. Ultimately, I don't think fundamentalists are borrowing many metaphors, if any.

Jesus "dieing for our sins" is a funny thing to mention, I couldn't let that slip by, seeing as how he was "resurrected" soon thereafter. Not much of a sacrifice, really. And it's worth noting that one of these sins is thoughtcrime, which is impossible for a human being to control.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:40 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maureen Dowd: Making Ignorance Chic.
/snip/

“At least, unlike Paris Hilton and her ilk, the Dumb Blonde of ’50s cinema had a firm grasp on one thing: It was cool to be smart. She aspired to read good books and be friends with intellectuals, even going so far as to marry one. But now another famous beauty with glowing skin and a powerful current, Sarah Palin, has made ignorance fashionable.

You struggle to name Supreme Court cases, newspapers you read and even founding fathers you admire? No problem. You endorse a candidate for the Pennsylvania Senate seat who is the nominee in West Virginia? Oh, well.

At least you’re not one of those ‘spineless’ elites with an Ivy League education, like President Obama, who can’t feel anything. It’s news to Christine O’Donnell that the Constitution guarantees separation of church and state. It’s news to Joe Miller, whose guards handcuffed a journalist, and to Carl Paladino, who threatened The New York Post’s Fred Dicker, that the First Amendment exists, even in Tea Party Land. Michele Bachmann calls Smoot-Hawley Hoot-Smalley.

Sharron Angle sank to new lows of obliviousness when she told a classroom of Hispanic kids in Las Vegas: ‘Some of you look a little more Asian to me.’

As Palin tweeted in July about her own special language adding examples from W. and Obama: ‘ ‘Refudiate,’ ‘misunderestimate,’ ‘wee-wee’d up.’ English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!’

On Saturday, at a G.O.P. rally in Anaheim, Calif., Palin mockingly noted that you won’t find her invoking Mao or Saul Alinsky. She says she believes in American exceptionalism. But when it comes to the people running the country, exceptionalism is suspect; leaders should be — as Palin, O’Donnell and Angle keep saying — just like you.”

/snip/
posted by ericb at 11:53 AM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't really tell from your employment of clauses: Are you saying that every Christian and Muslim politician gives you pause, or are you saying that every Christian and Muslim believes in bringing about the apocalypse so their savior can return to earth to redeem mankind?

I'm really trying to not sound exasperated here: have you in fact read the entirety of Bible or the Qu'ran? They are both filled with brutality, racism, sexism, slavery, genocide, and calls to follow God into righteous battle against your enemies.

I would be glad if I could assume (probably correctly) that most Christians haven't read 5% of their holy book. Islam places more importance on reading directly from their holy book, but I doubt second generation Muslims Americans are far off that mark. But how can I assume they are all as dismissive of the immoral material in their holy books as I am? How should I know but to ask?

This is a bit vulgar, but as Hitchens put it, the problem is not that most religious people are currently civil towards each other. It's that the words exist in the holy books they carry around that have been used for unspeakable acts of injustice and violence in the past and right through the present day. They are just waiting for the right conditions to release their hatred and misery again, just like the plague-carrying rats in La Peste.

True, these are just excuses for humans to kill humans. Yet there's something more reptilian that you appeal to when you appeal to a religion instead of nationality. For one thing, your country can't promise you eternal life in heaven after you die in violent action. It can't claim to be on the side of eternal good or limitless love, because you know it's just a country like any other. It's tough enough to get a human to kill another one, but easier if you separate them with "otherness." Demonizing their religious practices is the quickest and easiest way to achieve that goal. I haven't forgotten all of the supposedly educated pundits who said, back after 9/11, that "these people" don't understand anything but violence.

So, back to the thread, here's a politician with some strange ideas already about morality. She also claims to be a devout Christian, and refused to say whether it's right to teach her religion in a science class. I don't doubt she intends to do good, and help people the way her faith has helped her. But as stated by an excellent Christian philosopher:
"Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

-CS Lewis
posted by notion at 12:12 PM on October 20, 2010


Typos, typos, grumble, grumble.
posted by notion at 12:14 PM on October 20, 2010


Anderson Cooper Schools Christine O'Donnell On Constitution (w/video).
"I'm sure most of us get confused about which amendment is which, I certainly do. But most of us aren't running for Senate, and most of us don't claim to be constitutional experts, as Christine O'Donnell has certainly come close to doing just that."
posted by ericb at 12:19 PM on October 20, 2010 [4 favorites]










American Protestantism is marginalized? Wha?

I was referring to chattel slaves, non-unionized Central American laborers, African Americans during the civil rights struggles of the 50s and 60s, the Palestinian Christians of Beit Sahour, Bethlehem and Lebanon, and anyone else who has used the Bible as a powerful lens through which to interpret their own struggle for liberation. But whatever, I'm sure it was really their atheism and a vocal rejection of all forms of spiritual hogwash that helped them on the journey.

"The bible doesn't mean this, it means this!" Why? Based on what? Supernatural theory? Prayer? A revelation? Certainly not serious scientific examination.

Literary criticism, the study of ancient languages, and an open mind. You're making the same error as the fundamentalists - interpreting the Bible as a rule-book or history text rather than what it is - a collection of ancient myths and oral traditions. A story-world featuring individuals wrestling with many of the same questions that modern Christian deal with.

Jesus "dieing for our sins" is a funny thing to mention,

I never mentioned this - this is not my theology, this is one specific christology. I said that Jesus died to save the world. I did not claim that he "died for our sins." You are, again, painting me with Sam Harris' magical fundy paintbrush.

I couldn't let that slip by, seeing as how he was "resurrected" soon thereafter.

According to who? Many Christians don't believe in the physical resurrection of Christ, or believe that he was resurrected figuratively in the works of the Apostles in the book of Acts. But whatever, you are apparently the authority on what is and isn't part of the official doctrine.

Not much of a sacrifice, really.

A day spent tortured on a cross, ridiculed by an occupying army, abandoned by every follower he ever had, abandoned and denounced by absolutely everyone who was dear to him save his own mother and his girlfriend? Dying abandoned - it appears - even by his own creator? Yeah, not really much of a sacrifice at all. Especially since - according to you - he got to be magicked back to life a few days later - literal Bible and all.

And it's worth noting that one of these sins is thoughtcrime, which is impossible for a human being to control.

Which is why it's worth noting that historically, most Christians would argue that this specifically demonstrates why all humans have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:47 PM on October 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm really trying to not sound exasperated here: have you in fact read the entirety of Bible or the Qu'ran? They are both filled with brutality, racism, sexism, slavery, genocide, and calls to follow God into righteous battle against your enemies. [...] They are just waiting for the right conditions to release their hatred and misery again, just like the plague-carrying rats in La Peste.

This is idiotic. You are either completely unaware or choose to entirely ignore the ways in which actual religious people interact with their faiths and their holy texts. If you honestly believe that all or most or many Christians and Muslims practice their religions in this way, your life must be filled with constant, needless terror.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:58 PM on October 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


2. There is no such thing as a person "not having the right to be upset." Period. End of story.


Then again, two wrongs don't make a right. Semicolon; beginning of sequel.

Incidentally, Alvin Greene is the Ultimate Warrior.
posted by anigbrowl at 1:05 PM on October 20, 2010


This is idiotic. You are either completely unaware or choose to entirely ignore the ways in which actual religious people interact with their faiths and their holy texts.

The belt buckles on the Nazi uniform said "God is with us." GW Bush said God was with us. Suicide bombers do not scream "Death to colonialism!" when they blow themselves up. Serbia and Kosovo were not fought over split hairs concerning physics or biology. Sunnis and Shiites aren't exterminating each other in death squads in Baghdad only because they disapprove of election results. Catholic and Protestant sectarianism didn't help the situation in North Ireland. Violent sectarianism continues to haunt our world.

It's not that all religious people behave this way, it's because they excuse the behavior of their fellow followers for behaving this way. And from time to time, given enough stresses in even a modern, secular society like Germany of the 30s and parts of the Middle East of today, religious ignorance is used as a tool of last resort, or as the primary tool of power politics, by evil men who discover they can turn everyone evil, or at least apathetic, with the impossible promises of supernatural salvation. The Kings and Queens of empires past were demi-Gods, or at least God chosen, for real political purposes.
In one recorded sermon, Lieutenant-Colonel Gary Hensley, the chief of the US military chaplains in Afghanistan, tells soldiers that, as followers of Jesus Christ, they all have a responsibility "to be witnesses for him".

"The special forces guys - they hunt men basically. We do the same things as Christians, we hunt people for Jesus. We do, we hunt them down," he says. "Get the hound of heaven after them, so we get them into the kingdom. That's what we do, that's our business." (source)
There are hundreds more stories about hazing in the Air Force Academy for not showing up to Bible classes, or for being punished for not attending Christian rock concerts. The US armed forces promote religion for very specific reasons. It's easier to accept dying and killing when death is not the end.

If you honestly believe that all or most or many Christians and Muslims practice their religions in this way, your life must be filled with constant, needless terror.

Just because I happen to be on the friendly end of the guns doesn't mean I abandon elementary moral principles and pretend they're not firing. Some people -- often the same people who believe that God will sort it out after we're dead -- are more able to grin and bear the injustice. What a coincidence.
posted by notion at 1:27 PM on October 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Dude, I don't even know what you're talking about at this point. The Nazis' belt buckles said 'God is with us,' therefore religious people are all secretly waiting until the right time to 'release their hatred and misery' on the rest of the world? Does that make sense?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:37 PM on October 20, 2010


Baby_Balrog, you seem like a well-educated universalist but that is not common among modern American Christians. You should not continue to accuse someone of being ignorant of Christians and Christianity for thinking that they believe in hell and physical resurrection.

Even if you completely disregard multiple polls that show that a majority of Americans do, in fact, believe these things, you can look at things like the Apostle's Creed, which is used in baptisms (do you believe in X?) as well as in services, which has this to say about Jesus and physical resurrection:

Catholic:

4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
5. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again. [...]
8. I believe in [...]
11. the resurrection of the body,


Church of England:

was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended into hell.
On the third day he rose again; [...]
I believe in [...]
the resurrection of the body,


Presbyterian:

Was crucified, dead, and buried:
He descended into hell;
The third day he rose again from the dead; [...]
I believe in [...]
The Resurrection of the body,


Lutheran:

was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended into hell.
On the third day He rose again from the dead. [...]
I believe in [...]
the resurrection of the body,


Methodist:

was crucified, dead, and buried;
the third day he rose from the dead;
he ascended into heaven, [...]
I believe in [...]
the resurrection of the body,
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:40 PM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's not that all religious people behave this way, it's because they excuse the behavior of their fellow followers for behaving this way.

This. Is. Hogwash.

From the Berrigans to Father Dear to the Quakers all the way back to first century prohibitions on soldiers becoming Christians - you've simply not convinced me that this is the case. I am a devoutly religious Christian - and my resume includes jail stints for protesting the SOA and anti-war actions in D.C., actively working to end the occupation of Palestine through the BDS movement and the Red Crescent and doing absolutely everything in my power to dismantle the horrorshow that is American Christian Zionism. I challenge you to find a single statement of mine, published or in a sermon or even on this website where I "excuse the behavior" of Christian fundamentalists. It seems that perhaps, to you, my very existence excuses their behavior - and if that's the case then I refuse to apologize for my beliefs. Go on with your crusade - and I'll continue investing my life in the work of dismantling fundamentalist propaganda - whatever its source.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:41 PM on October 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


> It's not that all religious people behave this way, it's because they excuse the behavior of their fellow followers for behaving this way.

You're also guilty of your neighbor beating his kids because you both get the same HOA newsletter in the mail.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:00 PM on October 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Dude, I don't even know what you're talking about at this point. The Nazis' belt buckles said 'God is with us,' therefore religious people are all secretly waiting until the right time to 'release their hatred and misery' on the rest of the world? Does that make sense?

It's a single salient point: does religion enable people to throw away their lives more easily because they think that death isn't the final moment of their existence? Do power hungry individuals abuse this fact to cause misery and violence? World history says "Yes."

I challenge you to find a single statement of mine, published or in a sermon or even on this website where I "excuse the behavior" of Christian fundamentalists. It seems that perhaps, to you, my very existence excuses their behavior - and if that's the case then I refuse to apologize for my beliefs. Go on with your crusade - and I'll continue investing my life in the work of dismantling fundamentalist propaganda - whatever its source.

And how many fundamentalists consider you a Christian? Look, the Christians I like the best are the ones who disagree with the worst parts of Bible the most. So why keep the Bible around? Why shackle yourself to some iron age ideology of supernaturalism? I believe deeply in Christian philosophy, but I don't have to explain myself when someone brings up any of the magical portions that were tacked on to the narrative after the fact. I don't have to explain what eggs and bunnies have to do with the resurrection. I can state unequivocally that miracles don't happen, and never did. I can defend the ethic of peaceful, transcendent compassion for enemies as the only real resolution to conflict without having to say that Christ was born of a virgin. Jefferson referred to this as "separating diamonds from a dunghill."

Since the Enlightenment, secular society has been dragging religion kicking and screaming into the future. I'm just wondering aloud how long we keep of the charade of a la carte spirituality, and the dangers involved with keeping the brutal portions of these holy books enshrined as if they were still relevant.

So let me put a challenge to you: what exactly is Christ-like about the genocides in Leviticus?

(Should we move this to some other area? It's getting long in the tooth and way offthread, and I'm certainly to blame.)
posted by notion at 2:27 PM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, the progressive Christians you're attacking as "excusing the behavior" of fundamentalists are regularly putting their lives on the line and winning victories.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:28 PM on October 20, 2010


> It's getting long in the tooth and way offthread, and I'm certainly to blame.

Yes, this site has seen enough pointless ranting about religion.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:29 PM on October 20, 2010


Baby_Balrog, I have no beef with UUs. You guys are harmless as far as religious folk go. What you don't understand is that your particular brand of Christianity is but a very small minority. Like liberals in Oklahoma. They exist, but they're vastly outnumbered by the unthinking shitheels doing their best to drive things into the ground.

It's hard for those of us who don't believe in an interventionist deity to distinguish those who aren't nutty from the very loud bleatings of the insane, especially when you insist on identifying yourself with the same label they choose to identify themselves with.

I'm assuming the assertion upthread that you are a UU adherent is accurate. I've known a fair number of UU church members, and the tolerance diversity of thought was incredibly refreshing compared to the regularly-churchgoing Baptists, Methodists, and others I have known.
posted by wierdo at 2:29 PM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


You're also guilty of your neighbor beating his kids because you both get the same HOA newsletter in the mail.

When people start pledging their eternal soul to HOA newsletters, this comment will make perfect sense.
posted by notion at 2:30 PM on October 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Absolutely nothing, notion. What, exactly, is Christ-like in Herod's slaughter of the innocents? What if the genocides in Leviticus aren't there because they're a good thing but perhaps as an example of how society can go dangerously off the rails when militaristic, empire-minded individuals perceive that God loves them more than their Canaanite neighbors? What if its a warning, rather than a blessing?
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:30 PM on October 20, 2010


That's all well and good, wierdo, but I'm not UU. I'm UCC. There's a difference. Aaaaas such I'm now late for Bible study.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:32 PM on October 20, 2010


I think this is why God invented killfile scripts.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:32 PM on October 20, 2010


I was raised Methodist, so was unaware that other denominations talk about Jesus going to Hell in their versions of the Creed. Rather interesting. Our religious education didn't have much mention of Hell at all, in fact.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:32 PM on October 20, 2010


It's a single salient point: does religion enable people to throw away their lives more easily because they think that death isn't the final moment of their existence? Do power hungry individuals abuse this fact to cause misery and violence? World history says "Yes."

This isn't at all what you argued earlier when you suggested that religious people everywhere are waiting to 'release their hatred and misery' on the rest of the world.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:34 PM on October 20, 2010


I wasn't calling Baby_Balrog a UU, actually.

I was referring to his belief in universal salvation as "universalism".

It is not a common Christian belief at all.

I get very tired of people from certain denominations of Christianity assuming that every Christian who isn't a whacked out fundamentalist is wholly aligned with their niche version of Christianity.

Universalism might not be a common current term--in fact, I probably only heard it in the context of UU history.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:44 PM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Absolutely nothing, notion. What, exactly, is Christ-like in Herod's slaughter of the innocents? What if the genocides in Leviticus aren't there because they're a good thing but perhaps as an example of how society can go dangerously off the rails when militaristic, empire-minded individuals perceive that God loves them more than their Canaanite neighbors? What if its a warning, rather than a blessing?

Bingo. But what if you were 5% of Christians who believed that, and the rest of your brothers are out there using the Bible to spread hate instead of love? Returning this to the thread, what in the hell is wrong with me inquiring about which side a candidate is on among the vast differences present in Bible reading people?
posted by notion at 2:45 PM on October 20, 2010


Lutherans don't all mention hell in the Apostle's Creed--but being raised in an ELCA church we used the "hell" version, and the Missouri Synod church I went to with friends used "hell".
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:46 PM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


shakespherian, you're understandably confusing the evil words in the holy books with the followers of religion.

I don't think your average Christian or Muslim goes to bed at night dreaming about how they can punish another sect. But if bombs and bullets are flying, or they are hungry, or they just lost a family member to religious violence, or if a demagogue tells them that Jews or Muslims or Hindus are to blame for their struggles, they damn well start to.

And, threadwise, I guarantee you Christine O'Donnell dreams about how she can "help" the poor people who don't believe in Jesus. She's thinking, "If we just returned God to public schools, America would be a better country." The code words about "local control" aren't fooling anyone acquainted with the civil rights movement.
posted by notion at 2:57 PM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


When people start pledging their eternal soul to HOA newsletters, this comment will make perfect sense.

I take it you've never been a member of an HOA.
posted by The World Famous at 3:05 PM on October 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


notion, just to remind you, your conversing with me began because I asked you I can't really tell from your employment of clauses: Are you saying that every Christian and Muslim politician gives you pause, or are you saying that every Christian and Muslim believes in bringing about the apocalypse so their savior can return to earth to redeem mankind? Your conversation immediately after that seemed to confirm that you were stating the latter. Now you seem aghast that I would think you are making blanket statements. Can you please clarify for me, without maybe so much condescension? I am a reasonably intelligent person.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:08 PM on October 20, 2010


Many Christians don't believe in the physical resurrection of Christ

?!!

Surely the correctness of this statement revolves around one's interpretation of "many." A thousand people are "many people"—and simultaneously a negligible number of people inthe context of the entire Christian population.

I suspect the number of Christians who do not believe Christ was ressurrected is pretty much negligible.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:30 PM on October 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Liberal Christians, man. You really can't say anything about them as a group other than "they have a generally positive view of Jesus Christ".
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:08 PM on October 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


Are you saying that every Christian and Muslim politician gives you pause, or are you saying that every Christian and Muslim believes in bringing about the apocalypse so their savior can return to earth to redeem mankind?

Sorry, I tend to get technical and snotty sounding in text. I'm slightly less repulsive in person.

I wasn't being facetious when I asked if you had read both texts in their entirety. The violence in those books is as plain as day, and many times God appeals directly to his followers to carry out brutality in his name. We've all heard the nastiness of the OT, so here's something from one Hadith:
"The last hour won't come before the Muslims would fight the Jews and the Muslims will kill them so Jews would hide behind rocks and trees. Then the rocks and trees would call: oh Muslim, oh servant of God! There is a Jew behind me, come and kill him."
According to modern Christian tradition, these parts are simply ignored and never talked about. In the Islamic community, I think they are more diligent about reading their holy books, so they have interpreted jihad as an inner struggle instead of an external struggle. If I didn't make this clear, let me do so now: the vast majority of religious people in America and the West either don't take their books seriously, don't read them, or don't interpret their intent as one of violent means to an end.

But, when you subtract education and general security, religion is a far different animal. Consider that the KKK was deeply Christian, and regularly quoted the OT as supportive of slavery and violence towards their enemies. The Catholic Church, given the choice to speak out against Hitler and be banned in Germany, chose instead to enter into the Reichskonkordat and stay in power there while remaining silent as the Jews were murdered by the millions, as well as Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, and other undesirables. So, how many Catholics, once they saw the Holy See supporting Hitler, remained silent due to the authority their Church had over them? How many believed that speaking out against that base form of evil would see them excommunicated and sent to hell, forever? How many Christians in America today, who normally abhor violence, don't pipe up when their pastor talks about Godly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Hell, point me to a single major evangelical figure who has disavowed the War on Terrorism. They don't. They don't because they love power and money more than they love Jesus or anything he stands for, so they are careful never to criticize popular violence.

So, to sort of wrap things up, if you say you are a Christian or a Muslim, I assume you believe that the Bible and the Qu'ran and related teachings are the words of God. In those books, both claim that the apocalypse is what will bring about the return of their saviors. Both books have appeals directly from God to kill other people. So while things are nice and rosy right now, I want to know that in a time of national crisis, the plague of the ugly sides of their religions won't trump reasonable and rational reactions to world events. I don't want Christine O'Donnell egging on Sarah Palin to push the big red button so they can go to heaven sooner rather than later.

I know that after the snafu of Reagan admitting he believed in Armageddon in 1984 that evangelicals like to publicly disavow the belief that followers should accelerate it's arrival. Yet, if O'Donnell calls herself a constitutional scholar but doesn't know jack squat the First Amendment, you'll hopefully understand why having anyone that religious and that ignorant is unacceptable in any part of our government.
posted by notion at 4:37 PM on October 20, 2010


Alright, notion, 'splain me this:

I'm really trying to not sound exasperated here: have you in fact read the entirety of Bible or the Qu'ran? They are both filled with brutality, racism, sexism, slavery, genocide, and calls to follow God into righteous battle against your enemies.

This being the case, then -- because of the prevelance OF Christianity and Islam -- how do you explain why brutality, racism, sexism, slavery, and genocide are not MORE common amongst believers?

...Might it not perhaps be that what religious texts SAY is not the only factor in what religious people BELIEVE, or might it not perhaps be that how religious people INTERPRET those texts is something that VARIES WIDELY?

It strikes me that you, in your assertion that "if Christian = then believer in genocide" , that you are actually being more Orthodox than most Christians.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:16 PM on October 20, 2010


brutality, racism, sexism, slavery, and genocide are not MORE common amongst believers

Cite, pls.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:26 PM on October 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Lots of people have a generally positive view of Christ. Are they all to be sneered at, or is that just for liberals?
posted by No Robots at 8:26 PM on October 20, 2010


> brutality, racism, sexism, slavery, and genocide are not MORE common amongst believers

Cite, pls.


....Cite HOW? By counting how many reports of murder there are in the paper and saying, "but there aren't more than that?"

That's what I'm getting at -- the implication is that all Christians are brutes, isn't it? Well, then, with the number of people in the country professing to be Christians, why isn't society more brutal than it is?

My point being: yes, the Bible is filled with hard language. But it's also filled with lots of other statements CONTEXTUALIZING this same hard language, and the majority of Christians are capable of processing Scripture in such a way that they don't regard the Bible as carte blanche to be douchewads. The same is true of the majority of Muslims being able to process the Q'uran, the majority of Jews and the Torah, etc.

Sure, you can find lots of brutality in the Bible -- if you cherrypick just the brutality. But most Christians do NOT cherrypick like that, and it is unfair not to recognize that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:32 PM on October 20, 2010


Lots of people have a generally positive view of Christ. Are they all to be sneered at, or is that just for liberals?

I will absolutely sneer at liberal Christians, but it's not for having a generally positive view of Christ.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:50 PM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also if you think that I was sneering, you're really looking for sneering.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:50 PM on October 20, 2010


Yeah, that didn't read as sneering, it was more just saying "you can't really make substantive generalizations about people who identify as liberal Christians other than they like Jesus, because as individuals they probably have all sorts of varying eclectic viewpoints and beliefs".
posted by Burhanistan at 8:56 PM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Video: O'Donnell unable to name a single Democratic senator she could work with

(And frankly, given the painfully long pause prior to her cop-out non-answer, I think you'd probably be safe striking out the last four words from that headline.)
posted by Rhaomi at 9:40 PM on October 20, 2010


Tone is hard to detect in this medium. Where's the rueful shaking head smiley to go after "Liberal Christians, man?" Can't live with 'em, can't shoot 'em, and all that.
posted by No Robots at 9:52 PM on October 20, 2010


EC: Well, measures of happiness, equality, safety, health, education, etceteras indicate that the least religious nations are the ones that rank highest. I can cite when I get on a computer instead of a phone.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:02 PM on October 20, 2010


Jesus, people. Honestly. We're all on the same side. This is precisely how the democrats will lose the house.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:05 PM on October 20, 2010


> EC: Well, measures of happiness, equality, safety, health, education, etceteras indicate that the least religious nations are the ones that rank highest. I can cite when I get on a computer instead of a phone.

Dude, Finland.

How about Switzerland? Sweden? We can keep going or you can maybe cite first and posit second.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:07 PM on October 20, 2010


> This is precisely how the democrats will lose the house.

This, and also underhanded ploys like this.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:10 PM on October 20, 2010


Hell, point me to a single major evangelical figure who has disavowed the War on Terrorism.

It depends on what you mean by major (and by the War on Terror), because I'd have to agree that you're sadly correct about an unfortunately large chunk of Evangelicalism, and you've quite fairly described the Dominionists:

"They don't because they love power and money more than they love Jesus or anything he stands for, so they are careful never to criticize popular violence."

As has been discussed on Metafilter recently, though, this isn't so much about the source material as it is about political corruption/co-option.

Some of the remaining disavowal seems to come from the libertarian side of things. There's other pockets elsewhere. It's not as prevalent as it should be, but it's out there.
posted by weston at 10:31 PM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


80% of Americans believe in God. Less than 50% of the Swiss. 40% of Finns. Less than 25% of Swedes. Numbers taken from the links you provided.

In those countries, church membership is dropping at an amazing pace. By default a citizen is considered a member of the church unless they register as having left the church. This is the sole reason the churches can claim that almost all citizens are members of the church.

In short, the examples you show are far less religious than the USA and at the same time far less violent, much healthier, etceteras.

Religiosity has no correlation to health. Regular church attendance does, but it's not because of a belief in god.
Religiosity has little correlation to happiness. In countries where religion isn't dominant, as it is in the USA, it doesn't affect/effect happiness.
Religiosity is negatively correlated to autonomy and achievement.
Religiosity and poverty are positively correlated. Also note that this article identifies the countries you mention as among the least religious countries.
Religiosity and teen pregnancy are strongly correlated.
Religiosity and racism correlate.
Extrinsic religiosity and child physical abuse are correlated.

It's not difficult to find individual studies that say one thing or another; it takes meta-analysis to sift fly-shit from pepper. Most of the above links are to meta-studies.

I assert: the happiest, healthiest, most equitable nations on this planet are those that are the least religious.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:13 AM on October 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


The code words about "local control" aren't fooling anyone acquainted with the civil rights movement.

Without 'local control' FedGov will continue to expand and large corporations will continue to expand their input in the FedGov process.

How would the 'power' of FedGov be cut without more "Local Control"?
posted by rough ashlar at 3:44 AM on October 21, 2010


Karl Rove: Tea Party Is 'Not Sophisticated'

Given Rove's turd-polishing ability to sway national elections, I think I want the Tea Party to stay that way.
posted by Rykey at 8:42 AM on October 21, 2010


Might it not perhaps be that what religious texts SAY is not the only factor in what religious people BELIEVE, or might it not perhaps be that how religious people INTERPRET those texts is something that VARIES WIDELY?

I am sorry, this is just nonsense. Numbers 31 has a few main themes:

1) God instructs Moses to kill all the Midianites.
2) Moses sends one thousand soldiers from each tribe, and they kill every Midianite man, burn their villages, take all of their belongings, and kidnap all of the women and children and return to Moses.
3) Moses then says (NIV): "Have you allowed all the women to live? he asked them. "They were the ones who followed Balaam's advice and were the means of turning the Israelites away from the LORD in what happened at Peor, so that a plague struck the LORD's people. Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man."

I am all ears as to how this passage can be interpreted as something other then killing, pillaging, and then raping the Midianite people. This sets the precedent that God may tell one of his prophets to tell all of his followers to commit these vicious, immoral, and undeniably evil acts on a certain ethnic group.

Maybe a "learned" Christian will get it drilled into their head that you're supposed to pretend that God's morality changed after Jesus arrived. But those aren't the people I'm worried about. I'm worried about the vast majority of Christians who haven't read it, and will only read that passage when some demagogue is preparing to send them off to war.

It strikes me that you, in your assertion that "if Christian = then believer in genocide" , that you are actually being more Orthodox than most Christians.

If you think that the Bible is the true word of God, then yes, it says that God told Moses to commit genocide. Ergo, God believes in genocide. Ergo, a follower of God believes the same things, no?

Are modern Christians more moral than the God? I would say yes, but the Bible says no: "Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?" (Job 4:17)

There's no apologizing your way out of what is in the Bible, unless you admit that it isn't all true. I don't know how many Christians have the courage to do that, but in my experience (and according to polls), not that many.
posted by notion at 9:01 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm sure millions of people will be delighted to hear that you've decided what they believe for them.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:09 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Right, I'm out. I should know better than to argue with people who still have a hangup over their mom not letting them sleep in on Sundays when they were nine.

I'm far more upset about Christians in America being unable to speak up when their nation is headed to war. I'm far more upset that Christ's message about being compassionate and loving to the "least of my brothers" has been turned into a commercial sideshow that has more in common with a Tony Robbins pep talk. I'm far more upset that despite Christ's command not to "turn [his] father's house into a house of merchandise", one of the most popular form of worship today involves zero biblical teaching and a whole hour of meaningless, trite lyrics set to Christian rock in multi-million dollar sanctuaries, complete with AV systems, bookstores, coffee shops, piles of sermon DVDs, etc., while the poor and destitute suffer a few miles away for want of a blanket and a meal.

Trust me.
posted by notion at 9:13 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm sure millions of people will be delighted to hear that you've decided what they believe for them.

And out of millions, I would like for one to give me a coherent argument explaining how I interpreted that passage incorrectly. Apparently you are fresh out of coherent arguments.

But snarky comments? Man, by the dozens.
posted by notion at 9:16 AM on October 21, 2010


the old testament is not a christian document, it is a document that christians have adapted and deconstructed for their own various purposes - just like you have done, notion
posted by pyramid termite at 9:16 AM on October 21, 2010


And out of millions, I would like for one to give me a coherent argument explaining how I interpreted that passage incorrectly.

It isn't that you 'interpreted' the passage incorrectly, it's that you seem to take it to mean that any person who is a serious Christian will, when shown that passage, be forced to become a supporter of genocide. This is, again, ridiculous, and clearly without any sort of understanding of how real actual people practice their faiths. If we go ahead and ignore the thousands of years of argumentation and conversation about passages like this, we're still stuck with the fact that you've only illuminated the way in which people are able to rationalize away problematic stories in their holy texts, and yet you seem to think you've discovered the secret proof that people of faith are (or are capable of instantly becoming, if required) genocidal maniacs.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:22 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


It isn't that you 'interpreted' the passage incorrectly, it's that you seem to take it to mean that any person who is a serious Christian will, when shown that passage, be forced to become a supporter of genocide. This is, again, ridiculous, and clearly without any sort of understanding of how real actual people practice their faiths. If we go ahead and ignore the thousands of years of argumentation and conversation about passages like this, we're still stuck with the fact that you've only illuminated the way in which people are able to rationalize away problematic stories in their holy texts, and yet you seem to think you've discovered the secret proof that people of faith are (or are capable of instantly becoming, if required) genocidal maniacs.

Well put.

Personally, I'm finding it interesting as well that he's specifically focusing on the potential Christian reaction to the passage, but not the Jewish one.
posted by zarq at 9:24 AM on October 21, 2010


Studies show that "lalalacan'thearyou" is the best way to keep faith in the face of contradictory evidence.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:27 AM on October 21, 2010


I'm far more upset about Christians in America being unable to speak up when their nation is headed to war.

During the run-up to the current Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the window of my office building had a clear view of Lafayette Square Park. I walked through the park and on Penn. Ave. between 15th and 17th around twice a day on average. I saw Christians there everyday speaking up when their nation was headed to war.

Here's just one quote from just one of the millions of Christians in America who opposed the war: "My vote against this misbegotten war is the best vote I have cast in the United States Senate since I was elected in 1962. And my call more than a year ago—more than a year ago—to bring our troops home is one of my proudest moments."

But, wait, you seem to be upset (your word - not mine) that Christians are making political decisions that contradict their ostensible religious beliefs. So which is it? Do you want people to ignore their religious beliefs when making policy decisions or not? If you claim that lawmakers should not allow their religious beliefs to steer government policy, it seems inconsistent to then complain that Christian policymakers don't do enough to help the poor in spite of their religion's admonitions in that regard.

Above, you said that "if someone holds an alliance to some God that is more important to them than their duties to me as my representative in government, and/or their service to the Constitution, I have a right to know about it, and I will mock them if I feel so inclined. Period. End of story." Now you're complaining that Christians in America are hypocrites because they don't help the poor or oppose war.

Well, good news! If a Christian policymaker is a hypocrite with respect to their religious beliefs when they support goverment policies, it's safe to say that their alliance to God is not more important to them than their duties to you as your representative in government! At best, any connection between their religion and their policymaking is a post hoc justification which you, astutely, recognize as hypocritical.

If you demand that all religious people in government set aside their deeply held religious beliefs and contradict them when they make policy, you really shouldn't then complain that they have become hypocrites.
posted by The World Famous at 9:50 AM on October 21, 2010


This is, again, ridiculous, and clearly without any sort of understanding of how real actual people practice their faiths.

I am not imagining that evangelical movements in Africa are looking to pass criminal, and even capital punishment laws for homosexuals. I am not imagining the hundreds of thousands killed in Iraq over religious differences. I am not imagining that the two most dangerous places on earth are where there is one officially Jewish state, and one officially Muslim state (Pakistan). Those are things happening in the real world.

You don't meant to say "real actual people." You mean to say, "everyone that I know" which I agree with. Everyone you know has a roof over their head, food to eat, and isn't being shot at. And everyone you know would act radically different if that wasn't the case.

And again, if everyone you know ignores their holy books, why do you still carry them around?
posted by notion at 9:53 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


notion, with all due respect, you have no idea who I know.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:00 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


TWF, you are confusing two issues. I think Churches could be amazing things, but they are full of hypocrites. And they don't pay taxes, even though they are nothing more than in the business of selling God. That's wrong. If some religious person wants to serve in government, I don't care. But they need to state up front that they will leave their religion at home. That doesn't mean they have to leave their morality at home. Those are two vastly different things.

Morality is this: killing people is wrong. Slavery is wrong (that's anti-Biblical, by the way).

Religion is this: you should eat fish on Fridays. Or you should worship Zeus at 10 am on Tuesday morning.

I don't care if they eat fish on Friday, or if they take Tuesday mornings off to pray to the North. I don't care if their religion means they have to engage in some wild orgy in the Spring to celebrate fertility. The moment they decide that I have to do those things because of their religion, our government is done for.

Now, in the case of Miss O'Donnell, because she is so heinously ignorant, she thinks that masturbation is some moral problem. In the cases when your religion conflicts with our constitution, your religion loses. I need to hear that stated publicly, and believe it, if you show signs that you are that far away from the 21st Century.

See the difference?
posted by notion at 10:07 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


notion, with all due respect, you have no idea who I know.

With all due respect, you'd have to expound on that for me to believe it.
posted by notion at 10:10 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


No thanks, I'm done here.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:12 AM on October 21, 2010


notion - I know, personally, many many non-violent Palestinian Christians who practice nonviolence because they are Christians. And I think your tenacious clinging to this falsehood that we either embrace the literal interpretation of the Bible (which is an entirely modern phenomenon) or we're "ignoring our holy books" is juvenile and weird. I know that's how Sam Harris sells books but it doesn't jive with reality.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:12 AM on October 21, 2010


But they need to state up front that they will leave their religion at home. That doesn't mean they have to leave their morality at home. Those are two vastly different things.

They're not two different things. For many Christians, they're intimately entwined. Their religion informs their values and morality, and vice versa.

Let's take an example, and please excuse me in advance for simplifying this drastically: Should a person have an abortion if the mom's life is in danger. Catholics believe that life begins at conception, and generally think that both lives are equally important. Since cellular reproduction in an embryo or fetus is a sign of life, one could conceivably say they are scientifically correct. Jews generally (not all but most) say that life begins at birth -- until a baby is able to live as a separate entity from it's mother, it is a potential life. We assign it a value and priority accordingly -- meaning that if the mother and fetus are in danger medically, the mother's life is considered more important.

Both of these positions could be supported scientifically. One's value judgment in this case doesn't need to be dictated by one's faith.

How do you separate the two?
posted by zarq at 10:16 AM on October 21, 2010


I'm just glad everyone is being granted all of the respect to which they are due.

But I am a little baffled that notion doesn't believe shakespeherian's assertion that notion has no idea who shakespeherian knows. I suppose that could indicate that notion and shakespeherian are actually close acquaintances who live in an extremely isolated place or something.

But, since notion asked shakespeherian to expound and shakespeherian apparently doesn't want to, please allow me to expound on shakespeherian's behalf, so that notion can begin to believe the assertion or at least have some sort of faith in it: notion, you presumably don't know shakespeherian in real life. Therefore, you have no way of knowing who shakespeherian knows. And even if you do know shakespeherian in real life, there is almost no chance that you could be able to keep tabs on everyone that shakespeherian knows. And yet, you have made an accusation based on your assertion that you know who shakespeherian knows and then refused to believe that you don't know all of shakespeherian's acquaintances unless someone "expounds" on the point.

I'm afraid (with all due respect) that the burden now shifts to you, pursuant to the well-established burden-shifting test set forth in the landmark case of Due Respect, Inc. v. No, You're Wrong, LLP, 164 Me.Fi.2d 96821 (2010), to prove your assertion that you do, in fact, know at least the identity of each and every one of shakespeherian's acquaintances. Unfortunately, the procedural rules clearly state that you must support your assertion with direct, admissible evidence. I'm willing to stipulate to a waiver of the requirement that you lodge authenticated exhibits with mathowie. But I am going to have to insist that you comply with the current Federal Rules of Evidence.
posted by The World Famous at 10:32 AM on October 21, 2010


zarq - I've posted excerpts of this before but I see that bitrot has killed it so I'll post it here again in its entirety (may the servers of metafilter preserve this for all time). Interestingly, a more literal interpretation of scripture is less likely to support an anti-choice position irt abortion. I apologize in advance for its length.

Is Abortion Murder?

By
Graham Spurgeon

About the Author

Bible Scholar Graham Spurgeon, a Baptist, lives in Buncombe county, North Carolina. This essay has been distributed in all 50 states and in many foreign countries, and is considered by many people to be the most persuasive pro-abortion essay ever published in America.

Q. What is your position on abortion?
A. I believe that a woman should be free to choose whether or not to have an abortion. No one else should tell her not to have an abortion. No one else should tell her what to do and what not to do.

Q. Who wants to deny her this choice?
A. There are many fanatics in our land who want to make all abortions illegal.

Q. Are all anti-abortionists fanatics?
A. No, and I respect those anti-abortionists who are willing to make concessions in a generous, humane spirit. For example, my esteemed brother In Christ, Billy Graham, approves of abortion “In cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is at stake.” When I talk about fanatics, I’m not talking about folks like Billy Graham. I am talking about those cruel individuals who are against any and all abortions - period.

Q. Is abortion murder?
A. The fanatics say so, but they haven’t looked closely at the Bible. Let’s see what the Word of God says on this matter: In the Old Testament, a law was stated clearly fr the Children of Israel after they came out of Egypt:

If, when men come to blows, they hurt a woman who is pregnant and she suffers a miscarriage, though she does not die of it, the man responsible must pay the compensation demanded of him by the woman’s master; he shall hand it over, after arbitration. But should she die, you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. (Exodus 21:22-24, Jerusalem Bible)

In other words, if you cause the death of the fetus, you merely pay a fine; if you cause the death of the woman, you lose your own life. Thus, the Bible clearly shows that a fetus is not considered a person. If the fetus were considered to be a person, then the penalty for killing it would be the same as for killing the woman – death.

Abortion then, is not murder. These verses in Exodus, by the way, are backed up by four thousand years of Jewish law; abortion has never been considered murder in Jewish law. A fetus is only a potential person.

Incidentally, the fine the Israelite man had to pay was not for the fetus; it was for hurting the woman. This is made clear in another translation of the same verses (Revised Standard Version): “The one who hurt her (the woman) shall be fined.” There was no fine for hurting the fetus because it was not considered a person.

Q. But doesn’t life begin at conception?
A. No, life begins before conception. The sperm is alive and the ovum is alive – long before they get together at the moment of fertilization. As Dr. John A. Henderson says, “Life does not begin at conception; it is only changed and now has the potential for a different form.” If terminating life is murder, then the anti-abortion fanatics should be consistent and say that terminating the life of the egg or sperm is murder. (Believe it or not, there is a crackpot group in California that is making this very accusation: they say that males who masturbate should be punished because they are guilty of wasting human life in the form of semen.)

Q. If the embryo is a potential person, shouldn’t it be treated the same way as a full-fledged person?
A. An acorn is not an oak, a seed is not a rose, an embryo is not a human being. Nowhere in the Bible is the embryo or fetus given the status of a human being. Personhood does not begin at conception.

Q. When does personhood begin?
A. The Bible indicates that personhood begins when a baby emerges from the mother’s womn. In the Bible and in modern life, birthdays are observed on the date of the baby’s emergence from the womb. The precise moment of the beginning of personhood is when the baby takes its first breath.

Q. Why the first breath?
A. Because that’s when God infuses the baby with a soul. Genesis 2:7 says, “And the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” In other words, when an infant breathes its first breath, the soul enters its body and it achieves the status of person.

Q. Doesn’t God want every fetus to grow into a person?
A. Not according to the Bible. In Ecclesiastes 6:3, God compares the rich man who has led an empty foolish life with a still-born infant and says, “it would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

The world is better off without Judases and Hitlers and Charles Mansons – who quite often begin life unwanted, grow up abused and hated, and then take out their agner on society. How many psychopaths and distructive misfits will be born if anti-abortion fanatics force women to bear unwanted children?

Q. The anti abortionists say that when conception occurs, that means God wants a child to result.
A. Whoever says that doesn’t know biology.

Consider these facts:
1. Between one-half and two-thirds of fertilized eggs in a woman fail to implant themselves in the uterus. They are washed away unnoticed.
2. In the United States each year, there are about one million spontaneous abortions – also called miscarriages. The abortions occur naturally- that is, the fetus is expelled from the womb without the assistance of doctors. In many cases, the woman is relieved of a horribly defective or diseased fetus. Scientists say this is nature’s way of handling deformed fetuses; a religious person would say that God is merciful in bringing about the spontaneous abortion.

Q. But spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) is far different from induced abortion, isn’t it?
A. I don’t think so. In many cases, abortion by a surgeon is simply a way of assisting nature, similar to the way we take various medicines to assist the natural processes of healing. Let’s say that doctors discover that a pregnant woman is carrying a fetus that is horribly deformed. If abortion doesn’t occur spontaneously (a miscarriage), then doctors are only assisting what normally should take place.

Q. Why didn’t God speak out explicitly on the question of abortion in the Bible?
A. It wasn’t an issue in Biblical time. (Neither was polio, but who would say that polio vaccine is against the will of God?) In Biblical times, abortion was not an issue because safe procedures were not known. Nowadays, abortion is safer than childbirth (statistically, a woman is less likely to die from abortion than from childbirth).

Q. Why did God wait so long to give the world safe abortion?
A. The world didn’t need it as much in the past as it does now. I think He is showing mercy on us by giving us this safe surgical technique at a time when the world is almost choking to death from over population. Human beings can't take care of the children already on earth: United Nations health authorities tell us that one-third of the world’s children die of malnutrition before the age of five. One out of three. What kind of life is that? I think God is showing us He wants quality – not quantity.

Q. The anti-abortionists would say that you are a “baby-killer.”
A. I happen to love children, I marvel at my own – they are little miracles, they are treasures. It is because I treasure babies that I am for abortion. I want to see babies that are wanted, loved, adored – not babies that are hated and abused, and forced into the world because of the misguided zeal of fanatics.

Q. Some anti-abortionists say that abortions in America constitute a Hitler-style Holocaust.
A. This is ironic because Hitler (and Stalin as well) outlawed abortion. Totalitarian regimes want to control every aspect of a person’s life, including a woman’s reproductive system. In America, by contrast, when our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, early abortions were legal. Allowing women to control their own bodies is the American way; treating women like cattle is the totalitarian way of dictators and ayatollahs.

Q. Won’t the American family be weakened by legalized abortion?
A. No. What would weaken the family is the government [were] to strip parents of their right to decide their family size for themselves.

Q. Wouldn’t widespread abortion make people callous to human life?
A. No, to the contrary, it would be society’s way of saying, “life is important. Children are important, and they shouldn’t be brought into the world unless they can be loved and provided for.” Child abuse is a sin and a crime (see Jesus’ remarks in Matthew 18:6).

Q. But the anti abortionists say that unwanted children can be put up for adoption.
A. This is a cruel hoax – all this talk about adoption. There are currently 120,000 children in this country – and uncounted millions elsewhere in the world – who are unadoptable. Nobody wants them. Blue-eyed, blond, white-skinned children are quickly adopted. But if a child is black or physically handicapped or mentally retarded, he or she is not likely to find a permanent home. It’s a shame, but it’s true. (Incidentally, there are many black couples who would love to adopt black babies but can’t afford to.)

Q. Can you give an example of a case in which abortion is the desired alternative?
A. A mentally retarded 12-year-old girl was raped by her father and she became pregnant. Doctors’ tests indicated that the fetus was physically deformed with a strong probability of mental retardation. The girl’s mother – who was living in terrible poverty – wanted the girl to have an abortion, and her pastor concurred. I think God favored this abortion. There are many other cases, of course, which could also be cited.

Q. Do you think that babies that do come into the world with handicaps should be killed?
A. Of course not. Once a baby is born, it is to be loved and cherished and helped as much as possible. Here is an interesting comment made by a woman who wrote to columnist Ann Landers: “I am the mother of a child with Down’s Syndrome. I believe that a special child can enrich one’s life. My husband and I have devoted a major part of our waking hours these past 12 years to making sure our son has a full and productive life. Our older children have also made this commitment to their brother. Given the chance, we would choose to have the beloved child again – just as he is. We would also choose not to bring another one like him into the world. Why? It is not that we lack compassion, it is simply a matter of energy.” She goes on to say that she and her husband are strongly in favor of a woman’s freedom to choose whether or not to have an abortion.

Q. The anti-abortionists talk about the pain that the fetus feels during abortion. Is there really pain involved?
A. Yes, any abrupt change in tissue structure results in “distress.” Yes, the fetus twitches. But you could carry this pseudo-scientific logic to an extreme: scientists have proven that plants are as sensitive as animals; when plucked by their roots, they “scream” with electrophysiological “pain.” Should we therefore stop harvesting vegetables because of this “pain?”

I am not moved by the “pain” of an embryo, which is a smidgen of tissue. (At four weeks, an embryo is no bigger than a kernal of corn – don’t let blown-up photographs mislead you.) I am moved, however, by the abuse of a child who is battered and slashed by parents who never wanted him.

Q. Are you saying that the anti-abortionists are indifferent to the pain of child abuse?
A. Though many anti-abortionists are fine, sensitive human beings, the fanatics among them seem to have a concern that begins with conception and ends with birth. Columnist Carl T. Rowan says the fanatics want to “force poor women to have babies, curse them when their children go on welfare, deny the children even a minimum level of decency, then wait for them to get pregnant at age 12 or 13 when they can tell them, ‘No abortions, you must have babies.’”

Q. Don’t you admire the anti-abortionists for being motivated by reverence for life?
A. That’s not their main motivation. Their main motivation is revenge. They want to see pregnant teenagers suffer the consequences of their sin. I have seen the evil gleam of vengeance in the anti abortionists’ eyes as they say, “She had her fun; now she has to pay the price.”

When the mob wanted to stone the woman who had committed adultery, Jesus said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7) I’m afraid that if Jesus were to repeat those words today, these self-righteous hypocrites would pick up stones and smash the poor girls who have been guilty of making a mistake. Stoning is not far from what these fanatics are in fact trying to do today. They are not so much pro-life as they are pro-vengeance. Their stones are these cruel words: “You must have that baby!”

To the woman who says, “I have seven children already,” the fanatics reply, “You must have that baby!”

To the woman who says, “I was raped,” the fanatics reply, “You must have that baby!”

To the woman who says, “My doctor says I will die if I have this baby,” the fanatics reply, “You must have that baby!”

You must have that baby – words of stone, crueler than the stones hurled at sinners in Jesus’ day by self righteous Pharisees.

Q. Isn’t it a good thing for teenage girls to be made afraid of getting pregnant? Doesn’t this discourage premarital sex?
A. I share the anti-abortionists’ concern about teenage sex. I think it’s wrong. We should try to discourage teenage sex and teach young people that sex is a part of marriage. But studies show that fear of pregnancy does not deter sexually active teenagers from having sex. They have the attitude, “It won’t happen to me.”

Q. Well shouldn’t pregnant teenagers be made to suffer the consequences of their wrongdoing?
A. If the girl wants to go ahead and have the baby, fine; but she shouldn’t be forced to have it. Why? Because the one who will suffer the most is not the mother but the child. Unwanted, unloved children are frequently abused, and they often grow up to become delinquents and criminals. Then society is made to suffer, as well. The “punishment” of the mother is enormously out of proportion to the “crime.”

Q. How do you know that unwanted children often become criminals?
A. There are dozens of studies, but let me cite just one – by the late Mickey McConnell, a prison minister: “Approximately 80 percent of the people in prison were unwanted and unloved children. And a large majority of the mass murderers and violent killers in American history were brutalized children. Imagine our society if every child is wanted and taken care of: we would virtually wipe out crime and close most of our jails. As someone once said, “There wouldn’t be anyone on the FBI’s Most Wanted List if these men had been wanted by their parents when they were little.” We would avoid stunted, thwarted lives; we would eliminate poverty and the grinding burden of welfare. We would see the flowering of every person’s intelligence and humanity.

Q. Anti-abortionists tell women who have had abortions, “Aren’t you ashamed, and don’t you wonder night and day what the baby would have looked like?”
A. This is just part of the vicious, insensitive campaign to make women feel guilty and sinful for having had an abortion. As I have already pointed out, most fertilized eggs fail to implant themselves in the uterus and are washed away unnoticed. Should a woman weep and wail over all those lost “children?”

Q. Shouldn’t a woman who has had an abortion feel some amount of shame?
A. No, there is no need for her to hang her head in shame. She is showing respect for life and devotion to God when she says, “Life is too precious for me to bring a child into the world at this time. I want to wait until I have the money or the emotional resources to be a good mother.”

Q. Aren’t all good Christians opposed to abortion?
A. No, there are many, many denominations that either favor abortion or favor a woman’s right to decide for herself. The people in these denominations outnumber the fanatics. Here are just a few of the national religious organizations which have come out in favor of a woman’s right to decide for herself. People in these denominations outnumber the fanatics.

American Baptist Churches, American Jewish Congress, Disciples of Christ, Church of the Brethren, Episcopal Church, Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church in the U.S., Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, and United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.

Q. Since the anti-abortionists are so sincere in their views, shouldn’t their views be written into law?
A. No, because putting their views into law would take away my freedom of religion. It would mean that they would force their religious beliefs upon me. (The Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in blood transfusions; that’s fine, but what if they tried to get the laws changed so that a blood transfusion was illegal?)

I believe that abortion is sometimes the Christian and humane alternative. I believe that God wants us to bring into this world only the number of children which we can adequately take care of. I believe that God has given us this safe surgical procedure as a gift to hold down the population in a world that is choked with too many people and not enough food, a world that is filled with unwanted children.

I am thankful to God for abortion. Anyone who reads the Bible with an open mind and – more important – an open heart, will see that our Heavenly Father wants quality, not quantity, for His children.

Copyright 1982, by Graham Spurgeon
All rights reserved.

Second Printing, 1982 Third Printing, 1983, (Revised) Fourth Printing, 1983 (Title Revision)
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:33 AM on October 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


God believes in genocide. Ergo, a follower of God believes the same things, no?

Are modern Christians more moral than the God? I would say yes, but the Bible says no: "Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?" (Job 4:17)

There's no apologizing your way out of what is in the Bible


I think you're forgetting that the story looks very different to someone who believes the God in question is real, omniscient, and just.

Have you ever just asked people about this stuff to see what they say, rather than assuming what they "must" believe?

I've had a couple of at-length conversations with people about this topic, actually. It's pretty simple to start with "How do you reconcile the famous commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' with several instances of specific commandments to kill?"

My experience is that even believers who aren't particularly sophisticated come up with an answer: God has a superior vantage point, so when God says to do it, there's a good reason. God can make judgments about taking life, but individuals are not supposed to make that judgment.

The next obvious question "How can somebody reliably tell when God is telling them to kill someone? Be a hell of a mistake to make if you're wrong about it or followed someone who is wrong." This is the real question that's raised for believers by passages like the one you've described, rather than "How could they do this awful thing?"

That question is usually a more challenging discussion with more diverse results, a few of which haven't left me sanguine. I think this is one of those cases where religion becomes as much of a mirror as an influence. But on balance, most of these conversations just end with the assumption "this will never happen, and if I think I should kill, I probably shouldn't" rather than "yeah, I can't wait until God commands me to kill somebody or better yet all those A-rabs."

There are more sophisticated answers. I've heard some people who apparently know more than I do launch into histories of conflict between the various Biblical tribes and cultural norms of the day and I probably would have done better to absorb some of that and/or check if they were making stuff up. But then again, my impression is that this kind of explanation tends to come from a position of marginal satisfaction with the idea that a just God asked it so it's OK, from people who are looking for sociological explanations, so they're less relevant to the topic of how believers approach things.

The long and the short of it is that I've found when you confront people with the question you seem to be assuming they'll answer one way, they answer it another.

There's still the question about why America seems to be so anxious to be at war with Assyrians, Medes, and Persians anyway, not to mention small islands in the Caribbean, Southeast Asian peninsulas, and shadowy terrorists who could be anywhere. In some cases I think selectively invoking biblical narratives helps the cause, but there's only one case I'm aware of where there've been people pushing for action primarily on biblical grounds, and that's some of the shenanigans related to Israel brought about by premillenial dispensationalists. The rest of the time everything I've read suggests it's frosting on the good ol' fashioned cake of tribalistic fear and materialistic "justice."
posted by weston at 10:57 AM on October 21, 2010


Baby_Balrog, I don't believe I've ever read that essay, or if I have I've forgotten doing so. It's an excellent summation of my feelings about abortion and a woman's right to choose.

Couple of interesting things... Graham Spurgeon. Is that a pseudonym? It would seem to be a combination of the names of two well-known religious figures: Billy Graham and street preacher C.H. Spurgeon.

For additional perspective on the traditional (meaning, 'followed by the Orthodox,') Jewish laws concerning abortion, here's an essay from medical ethicist Daniel Eisenberg, MD
posted by zarq at 11:06 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


notion - I know, personally, many many non-violent Palestinian Christians who practice nonviolence because they are Christians.

And how many Palestinians blow themselves up because they think they'll be rewarded with heaven? For every Christian Peacemaker Team, there's a unit of Marines thinking that God is on their side.

Again, I am not against the morality that is good in holy books. I am against the very idea that God rewards violence, that he has "chosen" people, and that those people can justifiably kill nonbelievers with His support. Abrahamic religions contain solid examples of this behavior, and for that reason, I think they are largely immoral, and set a terrible example for the way humans should conduct themselves.

The powderkeg of the world is in these deeply uneducated, deeply non-secular, and deeply religious parts of the world for that very reason. There has been no secular society civilizing that part of the world, telling them that we keep the books around for tradition, but don't pay any real attention to them.

(Not that I would suggest any other nation should invade and try to speed this up... that's 90% of the problem).

And I think your tenacious clinging to this falsehood that we either embrace the literal interpretation of the Bible (which is an entirely modern phenomenon) or we're "ignoring our holy books" is juvenile and weird. I know that's how Sam Harris sells books but it doesn't jive with reality.

Is the Bible the word of God or isn't it? On one hand, you want people to believe that it's all true, or else the fantastic claims it makes about Jesus are immediately suspect. On the other hand, you don't want them reading all of the Bible and following it, because they would end up murdering children if they thought God told them to do it. You give them a 1200 page book, tell them it's the key to salvation, but then you get upset if anyone suggests that they read it and believe it.

A perfect example is the foundation of Abrahamic religions: Abraham, believing God told him to kill his son, prepares to do exactly that. Then God, at the last minute, praises him for wanting to kill his son, and then tells him not to do it. Devotion to God isn't good enough to just profess. You have to be devoted enough to kill your own son. And for this, God will reward you handsomely.

This activity, thousands of years ago, is somehow worthy of praise. This activity, in the present day, is depraved lunacy. Surely this "weird and juvenile" sense of loyalty is no basis for morality.

I am very glad that most religious people ignore this lesson. I'm very glad that most religious people believe that it didn't happen. But what's the point of keeping it around if this is the case?

Why keep the gun loaded and on the table, and hope everyone who walks by it knows how to handle it?
posted by notion at 11:08 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Both of these positions could be supported scientifically. One's value judgment in this case doesn't need to be dictated by one's faith.

How do you separate the two?


Abortion may be the ultimate moral question, and I doubt it will ever be "solved." But in this case, I think there is a simple answer: as science makes it possible to save more premature babies, the question of when a baby has it's own rights does change, and I think it should be reexamined as such. There will probably be a day when at any point a fetus can be removed from the mother's body and still survive.

If society wishes to foot the bill, and save all of these babies, abortion ceases to exist, and all unborn babies will be adopted and removed from their mother. If society does not wish to foot the bill, as we choose now to let 9 million born children die from preventable diseases every year, then the life of the child will be cut short at the direction of the party that is responsible for supporting the life of the child: the mother.

Until science progresses to that point, I don't think the government has more authority than the mother to decide to continue the pregnancy. When it comes down to the rights of individuals, the mother - having been already alive and being able to suffer - has more rights than a fetus who is not yet biologically capable of any of those experiences.
posted by notion at 11:22 AM on October 21, 2010


And yet, you have made an accusation based on your assertion that you know who shakespeherian knows and then refused to believe that you don't know all of shakespeherian's acquaintances unless someone "expounds" on the point.

I've had this discussion in person before. This is an answer you get when someone is done arguing, the "you couldn't possibly understand my reasons" argument. (Surely there's some official rhetorical term for this - argument from authority I guess.) I never accept it as a valid answer, because they are trying to claim that my ignorance of their particular experience can't be explained.

I made the claim that shakespeherian is attributing the religious nature of his society to every society, not that I could possibly know everyone that he does. He's saying that because it's technically correct, but it's also entirely besides the point.
posted by notion at 11:33 AM on October 21, 2010


Baby_Balrog, thanks for posting that. I hadn't read it before, and it's a wonderfully humane, peaceful piece. It is hard to believe that it was written nearly thirty years ago if you look at the tone of the conversation now.
posted by peachfuzz at 11:35 AM on October 21, 2010






Christians in America being unable to speak up when their nation is headed to war. I'm far more upset that Christ's message about being compassionate and loving to the "least of my brothers" has been turned into a commercial sideshow that has more in common with a Tony Robbins pep talk

Perhaps they are more in tune with the Christ who cursed trees for not having fruit out of their season and who was saying go buy a sword.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:49 PM on October 25, 2010


Colorado GOP Senate candidate Ken Buck: "I disagree strongly with the concept of separation of church and state."

He follows that up with a claim about Obama renaming the White House Christmas Tree a "holiday tree," a claim borne out of chain e-mails which PolitiFact.com has already ruled "Pants On Fire!" false.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:39 PM on October 26, 2010




The gawker story.
posted by josher71 at 11:44 AM on October 30, 2010




Now that O'Donnell lost, I'm afraid she isn't you anymore.

Can't love that Canadian comic's bit though. For one thing, O'Donnell just completely ignores her, so it basically didn't work. Also, I don't like ambushes whether done by this woman, O'Reilly or Michael Moore.
posted by msalt at 12:59 PM on November 4, 2010




The ultimate shame!
posted by Artw at 1:14 PM on November 4, 2010


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