God's Politics

God's Politics


Jim Wallis: The Proof is in the Policy (Not Piety)

posted by gp_intern

This latest entry by Jim in the Newsweek/Washington Post series On Faith addresses the following question: As the presidential campaign begins to take shape, do you think it is appropriate and or important for the candidates to express their personal religious views and to use religious rhetoric? Why?

I have said and written many times that I think a good and fair discussion of how a candidate’s faith shapes his or her political values should be viewed as an appropriate and positive thing – it’s as relevant as any other fact about a politician’s background, convictions, and experience for public office.

The more talk in political campaigns about values, the better, and religion is a primary source of values for many Americans. Minority religions and nonreligious people must always be respected and protected in our nation, but the core commitments of religious liberty are not compromised by an open discussion of faith and public life.

Having said that, I also say that it is important to remember that the particular religiosity of a candidate, or how devout they might be, is much less important than how their religious and/or moral commitments shape their values, their political vision and their policy commitments. If one’s religious and ethical convictions don’t shape a candidate’s (or a citizen’s) public life, then what kind of commitments are they?

In a democratic and pluralistic society, we don’t want to evaluate candidates by which denomination or faith tradition they belong to (or whether they are a person of faith at all), and only vote for the candidate in our group. What’s important is not how often they attended church or synagogue (like a tally of votes missed by a member of Congress), but rather the moral compass they bring to their public life and how their convictions shape their political priorities.

I also insist that political appeals, even if rooted in religious convictions, be argued on moral grounds, rather than as sectarian religious demands – so that the people (citizens), whether religious or not, have the capacity to hear and respond. Religion must be disciplined by democracy and contribute to a better and more moral public discourse. Religious convictions must therefore be translated into moral arguments, which must win the political debate if they are to be implemented. Religious people don’t get to win just because they are religious (in a nation that is often claimed to be Judeo-Christian). They, like any other citizens, have to convince their fellow citizens that what they propose is best for the common good – for all of us and not just the religious.

Or, as Sen. Barack Obama put it at our 2006 Pentecost conference: “Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason.”

Susan Jacoby, however, misrepresents all of this in the two paragraphs about my book she included in her response to this question. She takes two short quotes out of context and implies that by saying the answer to President Bush’s “bad theology” is “good theology,” I somehow think that the President of the United States should be the “theologian-in-chief.” In fact, my critique of the president’s theology was making the same point she is making. I wrote in God’s Politics: “a president who believes that the nation is fulfilling a God-given righteous mission and that he serves with a divine appointment can become quite theologically unsettling. … Bush seems to make this mistake over and over again of confusing nation, church, and God. The resulting theology is more an American civil religion than Christian faith.”

I criticize the president’s theology as a Christian, in part because that is how he seeks to justify his policies. But then I argue my political points in the public square on the basis of a morally-based public policy. The two are complementary, not contradictory.



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mingus

posted January 29, 2007 at 7:16 pm


well said, jim. i pray that the days of one party getting the “christian vote” simply because they claim to listen to people of faith are numbered. i pray that we will finally have political candidates whose politics are informed by their faith rather than the other way around.



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Daniel

posted January 29, 2007 at 7:30 pm


I’m just pleased as punch to see the Left opening up to public expressions of faith again. And I love Barack Obama’s standard. Legislating religious rules, as Texas had in Lawrence v. Texas, seems to me contradictory to democracy….



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timks

posted January 29, 2007 at 8:34 pm


How is President Bush’s approach different from Jim Wallis’s again? They both seem to believe that their preferred policies are an outgrowth of their theologies. The only things they disagree on are the particular policies. Wallis’s and Bush’s differences are therefore not on principle. They both seem to believe that the government is an appropriate vehicle for the implementation of their own theological vision. Rev. Kettle, meet President Pot.



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butch

posted January 29, 2007 at 8:48 pm


I’m sorry I don’t believe that Bush’s policies come from religious conviction. Of course many believe it does, now comes the debate. Others believe that Wallis is a lie, can we resolve this difference, I think not. I really think those who don t agree with Wallis should leave and tweak their position then get active on that path and leave those who think Wallis is on point to do the same.



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butch

posted January 29, 2007 at 8:58 pm


I’ve told this story a few times but it seems to fit my position about this. I’m very active in a local political party. I would go to a meeting and they would gripe about the other party and work to raise money and that was it. So, I engaged the congressman for my district with questions, he ignored me or sent a pre-prepared position paper which usually didn’t address my specific question. I went to see him and asked a specific question which he promised to look into and get back to me and never did. You may get a response from your friends or those who share your general position and the other side will ignore you. I’m saying talk to your friends and forget your enemies. Doesn’t sound like the person who takes on those that I feel are here to interfere but it is exactly the same.



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mingus

posted January 29, 2007 at 9:33 pm


jim wallis and george bush are obviously both men of faith. i don’t doubt that bush’s faith is genuine. but i believe that in his policies, his faith has been trumped by a secular neoconservative ideology. i don’t believe that wallis’ faith has been trumped by a secular liberal worldview. i believe that his faith in the words of Christ has led him to the beliefs that he espouses. that’s the difference. (and before anyone pounces, i am in no way suggesting that a conservative can’t be a genuine follower of Christ. i just don’t believe that the bush administration’s policies are driven by his faith as much as they are by the neoconservative cabal that followed him into office.)



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butch

posted January 29, 2007 at 9:38 pm


Mingus does it matter if I’m right about Bush or you are. If a man of faith would allow his principles to be cooped then he can’t lead. I don’t believe Bush’s faith because he advised his dad on how to coop the religious vote and then did just that in his own campaign. I still believe it is all a lie. There are notes he made to his dad about how to do it, there is a record.



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timks

posted January 29, 2007 at 9:40 pm


mingus, thanks for your post. If what you say is true, why do so many secular liberals (self-described) agree with Jim Wallis’s views?



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butch

posted January 29, 2007 at 9:42 pm


Define secular liberals please?



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Payshun

posted January 29, 2007 at 9:43 pm


Tim Good question because they can see something that appears less judegemental and in line w/ their views on healthcare… They see a religion that is not based solely on excluding people but want to include those are traditionally excluded. So they support it.p



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Daniel

posted January 29, 2007 at 9:57 pm


timks, The last section of this post itself answers your question about the difference between Jim Wallis and George W Bush: Jim believes that his theological beliefs are subject to the constraints of reason in the public forum. That’s a far cry from saying that God wants you to be President and has tasked our country with eliminating evil from the world (quotation sources are in God’s Politics when Jim talks about good and bad theology).



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Kris Weinschenker

posted January 29, 2007 at 10:01 pm


I’m not usre I like this comment attributed to Obama…. “Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values” It sounds as if, like Kuo claimed of Bush, that when push comes to shove, Obama is a politician before he is a Christian.



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mingus

posted January 29, 2007 at 10:52 pm


timks, interesting question. however, i would also argue that many secular liberals would also disagree with much of jim wallis’ views. or, they like when he talks about the poor, but not so much when he talks about faith being an integral part of a candidate’s politics. wallis and likeminded folks have also spent a lot of time trying to find common ground with and working with seculars for similar goals (something that many christians are unfortunately too wary of, as if by association, they’ll get “infected”). the fact that many of wallis’ views are in line with those of many secular liberals does not dilute his views, or the source of those views. and just because someone is a secular liberal does not mean they are devoid of morality. we are all created in God’s image, and i believe that God works through all kinds of people.



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robstur

posted January 30, 2007 at 12:57 am


Kris Weinschenker | Homepage | 01.29.07 – 5:06 pm | I think that I might agree with you. Need to think this out a little more. I believe that with what is happening in the world today – our future legislation might have to take into consideration some religions practices as they are not is sync with our laws.It is not so simple today as it was a few decades ago. I still believe that if we stay with a Judea – Christian ethic with our laws – it will be fair for all. mingus – enjoy your postings – might comment a little later on about them – you and I have been in the thick of things in the past. Be blessed everyone… .



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jesse

posted January 30, 2007 at 1:31 am


Daniel, I think those quotes by Bush are ones he is said to have made in private. Him believing that “God wanted me to be president” is not really that controversial when you think about it. I think God wanted me to be in grad school and living where I am and going to the church that I’m attending. No big woop.Bush has also made the statement: “”Americans do not presume to equate God’s purposes with any purpose of our own…God’s will is greater than any man, or any nation built by men.” The difference between Bush and Wallis, of course, is that one says he has “God’s politics” and often claims publicly that God supports his own policy preferences.It ain’t Bush.



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 1:42 am


I’ve disagreed with many preachers but I think Wallis is taking positions supported by text. If you disagree with his interpretation then settle the theological difference or even suggest he is so far off as to end the debate. Bush suggest he is following God and it has led him to war and constant threatening someone.



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 1:53 am


We threaten Iran and all they have to do is feed and arm a few radicals and keep us tied down exactly like we did to the USSR in Afghanistan and the way we did Saddam when he attacked Iran. We’ll go broke on this path. Oops, forgot we are giving Iraqi s freedom, at what price.



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 1:55 am


Wait, I’ve got it! They have to standup before we can stand down or is it fall down?



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Insight

posted January 30, 2007 at 2:34 am


This is such a tired subject that keeps being trumped again and again. Instead of focusing on POLITICIANS who spin the rhetoric of religious talk in effort to appeal to the center, it seems that Jim and Sojourners should begin to tackled some of the sectarian, isolationist, arrogance that exists within the church itself. I’m so tired of Jim’s reliance upon Barack Obama to bolster his democratic progressive agenda. I wish that Jim would quit pimping Obama’s words and making more of them than they are.At the end of the day, MONEY and POWER that comes from the MONEY will buy Obama the visibility and voice that he will need to run for president. And that’s not something that really rests with the people, but rests with the DNC and special interests groups–whether that be hollywood, big business, or political/religious alliances like Sojourners. So tell me, is the process of power and favoritism at the center of God’s politics? Or is this just a kinder, gentler version of political manipulation? Who’s buying dinner for Jim today?



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 2:44 am


I read the words that Wallis quoted from Obama and wonder what about them you quarrel with?



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Rick Nowlin

posted January 30, 2007 at 3:52 am


I think the real issue we should ask: Whom do these policies benefit in the long run — many or few? When I listen to Bush, Dobson and Rod Parsley I hear division and cutting people out of power; when I listen to Wallis and Obama I hear them talk about bringing others to the table not like themselves. Something else I remember: A few months ago I caught a segment of ABC News Nightline comparing Parsley (who pastors a mega-church in Columbus, Ohio and is one of those “patriot pastors”) to another pastor of a more liberal persuasion. Parsley basically compared his “numbers and organization” to that of the other guy and said, in effect, God must be with us. That reminded me of a comment Stalin once made about what he saw as the Catholic Church’s lack of power: “How many divisions has the Pope?”. We all know the answer now.



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Mike Hayes

posted January 30, 2007 at 4:20 am


Jim Wallis, I might be mistaken, but I think personal attacks against you on this blog are fewer in number and intensity… hope I am correct… You pointed out that ours is a pluralistic society and that religious beliefs must be stated in more general, moral terms… the common good is what is best for all of us, not just Christians: “…Religion must be disciplined by democracy and contribute to a better and more moral public discourse. Religious convictions must therefore be translated into moral arguments, which must win the political debate if they are to be implemented. Religious people don’t get to win just because they are religious (in a nation that is often claimed to be Judeo-Christian). They, like any other citizens, have to convince their fellow citizens that what they propose is best for the common good for all of us and not just the religious…”. Thank you for re-presenting the approach of Martin Luther King (“… with a bible in one hand and the constitution in the other hand…”) to us.



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Insight

posted January 30, 2007 at 6:25 am


If you read MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, King chastises the complacency of pastoral leadership relative to the urgency of discriminatory structuralism. In effect, he argued for a broader theological viewpoint that was necessary to “step out” and away from the safe environment of the local church. King, who wasn’t nervously running across the world looking for a camera and a microphone, was not beholden to politicians as a means to bolster the movement. He did not host “Pentecost 1963″ conferences where he relied upon political forums for anti-war politicians to cajole Christian progressives. Nope, today is a very different day where politicians will need favors and will cut political and religious deals to gain the presidency. Politics is a nasty business, and asking politicians to act morally seems to be an oxymoron. Politicians know that the religious right has polarized many Christians. Now the strategy of many politicians is to move toward the center–and that means to learn the language of moderates, so that they can appeal to the Sojourners crowd. Sojourners can help by challenging the Rod Parsleys, Joel Osteens and TD Jakes of Christianity; this will take more money out of their pockets and perhaps put it in the places where it’s most needed–to be used on behalf of the needy. But if they take on that challenge, then they risk being accused of causing division in the church. And that seems to be a Goliath that SJ and friends avoid like the plague, because it requires serious reorientation to the message and ministry of Christ. Much easier to latch onto a political agenda–the payoff of visibility and prestige is so much greater.



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 6:48 am


Insight if I didn’t know you were nuts I might listen to your rant. Go start your own movement!



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Insight

posted January 30, 2007 at 7:41 am


butch: you read the “rant” so I guess I’m not nuts. please deal with argument, and avoid personal attacks. perhaps it’s just requires too many neurons for you to engage–that’s ok, but at least be willing to admit it, or to just not comment. some get what I mean; apparently you don’t. that’s ok, but don’t insult people. it’s so “not Christian” of you. by suggesting that anyone who disagrees should “start their own movement” only adheres to the celebrity-mindedness that i am critiquing.the rule: be passionate and selfless, and perhaps it will attract others. Sojourners has passion, but I question whether it is beginning to lose its selflessness. gooday butch.



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 7:48 am


you think well and write well but bring nothing to table but a vague gripe well put though



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Insight

posted January 30, 2007 at 8:22 am


butch: it’s not a gripe my friend. it’s just a seach for what is truly “different” in the SJ camp. the ideas of SJ seem very similar, if not identical to the great society agendas of the past (I speak as a registered democrat). if all that SJ asks is that people be “moral” it seems that they really mean “civil”. SJ and Jim seem to use the term “moral” as a biblical equivalent, but i think that’s the rub. i live in washington, dc and there is much truth in how one gains power and visibility by being a part of the “washington establishment”. it’s not like living in iowa or other places (and i’ve lived in those places). my concern is that SJ will sound less and less biblical, and more like a democratic political action committee that will be used to attrack Christians who increasingly think that Rome is who they should align themselves with so that biblical mandates toward the poor and needy will be accomplished. washington politicians would love that kind of dependency by Jim, SJ and any other progressives Christians. look at all of the rants that Jim has written about Iraq and Bush–they are increasingly vitriolic, and less biblically/theologically oriented; he sounds more like a religious democrat than a prophetic voice who will not be bought by the Roman (Washington) establishment. i don’t think this is a vague gripe. gooday butch.



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 8:23 am


insight Children go to school hungry and come home to inadequate health care. Elderly are choosing between food and medicine. The mentally ill live on the street out of grocery carts. Young people are dying every day in Iraq. We are squandering our fortune and good name in the world. The rule: be passionate and selfless and do something, apply your mind and writing ability to something. Give us a well-written report. When we need a critique we will get back to you.



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Insight

posted January 30, 2007 at 8:39 am


butch: i do a lot butch. and part of what i do is to engage my fellow believers to challenge us to think more deeply and take more seriously our Christian mandates. Jesus never relies upon Rome to accomplish ministry. Indeed, he didnt’ live in a democracy, so there are distinction that must be made between then and now. Children are hungry, and people are dying, etc. The visibility the SJ presently has can be used on many fronts: 1) in the political diaspora, where Jim seems to be a centrist/democratic voice and 2) to critique and chastise greed and arrogance within the Christian church (that seems content with consumerism and health, wealth and prosperity). it’s the second arm that is lacking in SJ–if it does not take this seriously within it’s own house, then it really cannot argue that washington pundits and culture should change. we’ve got serious greed and pride problems in the American Church–and many of those churches sat idly by and let us invade Iraq. moreover, they allow our children to suffer under poor public schools, and allow people to go hungry. But we continue to build our mighty edifices to the Lord. That’s the shame of the Church that SJ refuses to confront. It’s much easier to play politics when you live in Washington. Payoff is much greater, and you rarely get crucified. gooday butch.



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 8:56 am


“i do a lot butch” Tell me about it?



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 9:07 am


“and many of those churches sat idly by and let us invade Iraq” The church always sits idly by, movements outside the church have always been the source of change.So, I “critique and chastise” you to stop this silly massaging of your ego and join in the work.



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Donny

posted January 30, 2007 at 1:37 pm


The only reason “certain kinds of people” want the Christians divided, is to unleash hellish programs on the American public.Remember always, that the bottom-lin for people like Jim Wallis is Democrat socialism like godless Europe.Not exactly practicing what he preaches to Christians that take the Gospel and New Testament seriously. Wallis. cares absolutely nothing for life. Otherwise, he would preach “holiness” and not condoms. It all starts where you value human life. Giving thought to those afflicted with STD’s, is not sensible when the root cause is not only ignored, but championed. Wallis and Pelosi are co-parts. They speak to licentiousness and appeasement (cowardice) and not anything morally sound. They’ll take by force the money of sound and healthy families but give nothing but death and discomfort in return. Wakeup America.



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Donny

posted January 30, 2007 at 1:42 pm


It is not the legislation of morality that Evangelicals seek. It is the attempt at stopping secular scumbags from teaching our children to become leftist-socialist-communists. You know, modern-day Democrats. Many people will not heed the Gospel. It has to do with pragmatism after all.



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 2:11 pm


Insight, Ironically, I think you would enjoy Barack Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope. In it, he addresses nearly every single thing that troubles you.



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 2:21 pm


jesse, The difference between Bush and Wallis, of course, is that one says he has “God’s politics” and often claims publicly that God supports his own policy preferences.It ain’t Bush. In September Bush held a conference with conservative journalists after which it was pretty widely reported that he said the War on Terror was bound up with a Third Awakening and a confrontation of cosmic good and evil. But if you’re already willing to deny the pattern of Bush’s alleged quotes – which come from pretty diverse sources, as with the Jewish official who admitted that Bush said God told him to invade Iraq – then I can hardly expect you to listen. The good news is that I simply do not care if you’d like create your own reality. In the words of Senator Moynihan, you are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.



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jesse

posted January 30, 2007 at 2:30 pm


Daniel, My point is how controversial is it for a Christian to believe he is doing God’s will? This is standard stuff. President Carter would no doubt say the same of many of his actions.Bush at least does not politicize Christianity the way Wallis does. He has never said that Christians must support his every policy preference.



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jesse

posted January 30, 2007 at 2:45 pm


I would also say that, contrary to Wallis’s allegation, in the public square, Bush argues on “the basis of a morally-based public policy.” All of the statements attributed to him about believing he is doing God’s will were statements made in private. In public, he has always used reasonable, moral, non-theological arguments in justifying all of his policies.Wallis, in contrast, has made the rather offensive argument in the public square (taking from James) that your faith is dead unless you support liberal policies. This is not arguing “morally-based public policy.” It’s the kind of stuff Falwell and Robertson do.



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 2:47 pm


Donny, You produce a tremendous amount of heat but very little light. In fact, if you remove the hate all you have is jibberish. For example: The only reason “certain kinds of people” want the Christians divided, is to unleash hellish programs on the American public.I have no idea what you are talking about here, this is completely incoherent. Are you laboring under the delusion that this is a zinger of an argument – or an argument at all? You have’t provided any link between certain kinds of people and division, between division and passing programs, or between programs and hell. There’s no Reason here, just bile.Remember always, that the bottom-lin for people like Jim Wallis is Democrat socialism like godless Europe.Here there is no explanation of a link between Europe and the absence of gods, democratis socialism and the absence of gods, or any alternative to democratic socialism – monarchy, anarchy, what? (America is a democratic socialist state and has been since the postal system and the military were created.) Not exactly practicing what he preaches to Christians that take the Gospel and New Testament seriously. The grammatical problem with this sentence renders it meaningless – I have no idea what you mean. We have Jim Wallis as the subject and Christians who take the Gospel and New Testament seriously as the object. The preposition is “to” and the verbial phrase is “practicing what he preaches.” Put all those together and you have a sentence, but it literally doesn’t mean anything. Wallis. cares absolutely nothing for life. Otherwise, he would preach “holiness” and not condoms. It all starts where you value human life. Giving thought to those afflicted with STD’s, is not sensible when the root cause is not only ignored, but championed. I believe you’ve come pretty close to an argument with this one. Using a condom is Satan’s work, od meant us to bareback it. Got it. Thus sayeth the LORD, am I right? So you think that having a condom in hand would lead me to have sex where I wouldn’t if I had nothing? And yet I’ll bet you believe “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” You have internet access – how in the world can you expect yourself not to visit porn sites and get all wrapped up in a seedy life of secret sexual deviances? Whither your concern for personal responsibility when you talk about Jim? Is it just convenient to forget about it for a pragraph or two? Wallis and Pelosi are co-parts. They speak to licentiousness and appeasement (cowardice) and not anything morally sound. They’ll take by force the money of sound and healthy families but give nothing but death and discomfort in return. I can fly. Huh, what’d’ya know… saying it didn’t make it true.Substance, Donny, substance. If you want to communicate with people you can’t so much talk to yourself as you might want to try talking with others.It is not the legislation of morality that Evangelicals seek. It is the attempt at stopping secular scumbags from teaching our children to become leftist-socialist-communists. You know, modern-day Democrats. “Secular scumbags?” You take the Gospels seriously? I’d like you to read Luke 10 – paying particular attention to a passage about a certain Samaritan and his charge – and then explain to me how being secular makes someone a scumbag.Many people will not heed the Gospel. It has to do with pragmatism after all. Donny, man – this is nonsense. Not as in it is wrong, as in it makes no sense. I have no idea what you’re talking about. Do you find that people very often have that reaction to your rants?



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 2:54 pm


jesse, Bush at least does not politicize Christianity the way Wallis does. He has never said that Christians must support his every policy preference. Man, I don’t know how to say this without hurting you but I can’t avoid it. I seriously fear you are having a rough time distinguishing fact from fiction. I don’t really know how to engage you in a conversation if you are willing to make things up to make a point…. Example: Bush at least does not politicize Christianity the way Wallis does. He has never said that Christians must support his every policy preference…. Wallis, in contrast, has made the rather offensive argument in the public square (taking from James) that your faith is dead unless you support liberal policies. This is not arguing “morally-based public policy.” It’s the kind of stuff Falwell and Robertson do. Wallis has never said this in any way. He has said that Left and Right have legitimate philosophies but have gone haywire and has called for the Right’s marriage with Christian theology and the monologue of the religious right to be transferred to a dialogue in which the Left learns to accept its personal faith in the public square. There are plenty of references to Bush tying the invasion of Iraq to being an action of God – but you deny those in order to create a fictitious claim about Jim. This is not good, jesse, not good at all. I realize you disagree with Jim and you might be frustrated, but I fear something has happened since your earlier days on this site. Much to my dismay, I no longer find you reasonable.



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 3:17 pm


jesse, Regardless of our different understandings of reality, I did want to address your two susbstantive arguments.First, that Bush makes reasonable arguments in the public square where Jim does not. I believe they both do. We cannot limit our test to rational arguments, however, For example, the argument over whether health care is a basic human right (or at least is necessary to ensuring basic human rights) is not completely pragmatic – to some extent we’re arguing over which truths we hold to be self-evident. But Jim need not rely on the book of James or Luke in order to make his case. That said, he is not an elected politician and his speeches, sermons, homilies, and writings are not universally constrained from this obligation. To some extent he must engender theology and exegesis – not universally reasonable subjects. But when he takes those to debate someone else he agrees to the common footing.Second, that it is fine and reasonable for Bush to believe he is God’s chosen and such in private as long as he is constrained by reasonable debate in the public forum. To some extent we agree, but my faith in our system’s checks and balances is almost gone after the federal encroachment and single-party domination of the past 6 years. Bush said we were invading Iraq whether it was popular or the world agreed or not and that he can break the law as he determines necessary. Whatever constraints we’ve had in place from the beginning must not be as structural as I [or Thomas Jefferson] believed. It weakens my percpetion of Bush’s willingness to make his case in the public forum – he doesn’t care whether he wins the debate or whether people agree with him. I believe he is uniquely unwilling to be constrained by the public process of reasonable discourse. that casts a whole different light on his private comments about God, America, and himself.



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 3:38 pm


jesse, I’d like to apologize for saying I no longer find you reasonable. It was judgmental of me to make the jump from one of your actions to judging your character in general. Your character, as far as I know it, is of a reasonable person. I hope we can continue without too much damage done.



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kevin s.

posted January 30, 2007 at 3:49 pm


“In September Bush held a conference with conservative journalists after which it was pretty widely reported that he said the War on Terror was bound up with a Third Awakening and a confrontation of cosmic good and evil.” He mentioned that he felt he was witnessing a third awakening. To the extent that it is bound up in the war on terror, I guess you can make that connection because we are presently engaging in a war on terror, but nothing in his comments suggests that he fancies himself a spiritual “awakener”. I infer from your previous comment that you see Bush overreaching in his powers because he believes God has asked him to, or that God’s will is more powerful than the will of Congress. I just don’t see it. While the United Nations opposes the war in Iraq, most of our prominent allies supported us. Congress also voted for a war resolution. Bush has discontinued the wire-tapping program (much to my dismay), so I don’t see “overreaching in God’s name here”. Wallis, on the other hand, has taken the liberty of comparing Bush to the Antichrist in the name of “God’s politics”, and has made the case that Social Security reform would violate the commandment that we honor our mothers and fathers. Shall we test those ideas against the logic of the public square?



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Mike Hayes

posted January 30, 2007 at 3:54 pm


Daniel and butch, Thanks for all that you do! I admire you for the substantial effort you invest here on this blog, on this topic, to respond to Insight, jesse, and Donny. James Dobson and others do not provide opportunity for a blog similar to this one. I wish that “take action” opportunities were being offered instead, by Sojourners, on the topics that are offered here on this blog. If you share in that thought, please consider communicating that to Sojourners.



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jesse

posted January 30, 2007 at 4:05 pm


Daniel, I’m not at all denying that Bush said some of the things attributed to him. My point is that the things he said are not outrageous or bizarre. Bush basically said that he thinks he is doing God’s will and that he thinks God wanted him to be president. This is perfectly reasonable for a Christian to say and believe.Wallis has made the criticism of conservativism and Bush in particular that “faith without works is dead.” This may be sloppy speaking on his part. But the plain reading of his statements is that Bush and conservatives have a faith that is not accompanied by works. And the works he speaks of are support for liberal policies. In sum, he has made the case on shows such as Jon Stewart’s that your faith is dead unless you support liberal policies.How else would you interpret his remarks?



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est

posted January 30, 2007 at 4:08 pm

butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 4:08 pm


Jesse say; “In public, he has always used reasonable, moral, non-theological arguments in justifying all of his policies.” All of Bush’s public statements are written by someone else.



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jesse

posted January 30, 2007 at 4:12 pm


I should add that Bush has made reasoned arguments for his actions in Iraq and at home again and again. He has never publicly criticized the faith or theology of others. He has never said in public that he’s going to do certain things only because God told him, despite the evidence. He has made reasoned, moral arguments for every policy he has supported.Of course, Wallis likes to paint Bush as a radical lunatic who does everything just because God told him to. It’s easier to dismiss someone than engage any of their arguments.



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kevin s.

posted January 30, 2007 at 4:16 pm


I would add that Jim Wallis only seems to be concerned with prophecy and the voice of God as it relates to his criticisms of Republicans. Daniel, I believe it was you who expressed confidence that Wallis would gladly point out the ethical lapses of congressional Democrats. Yet, the ongoing struggles of Harry Reid, William Jefferson, Sandy Berger, etc… Don’t see the light of day. The House just passed a resolution allowing representatives from non-states to vote in the house. If the Republicans had done that, we would assuredly be hearing about how the prophets would be making their way to the White House lawn.Were the prophets partisan Democrats, or what?



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 4:21 pm


Jesse, Who has engaged Bush’s policies? The most recent election. The Baker commission. How many of the willing are now unwilling. This list could go on forever. Almost everyone I hear talks about how much trouble we are in AND how difficult it will be to get out. Just because one does not offer a specific plan to get out doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get out.



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splinterlog

posted January 30, 2007 at 4:23 pm


Were the prophets partisan Democrats, or what? Oh come now, we all know that Jesus rode a donkey and not an elephant into Jerusalem! ;)



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 4:26 pm


“Were the prophets partisan Democrats, or what?” I’ve mentioned that we have formed a committee in our political club to watch OUR congressman and his behavior. If we find him stealing, being unduly influenced by special interest, writing love letters to pages then we are going to out him. If Republicans had paid more attention to their own they would still have congress in spite of Iraq.



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 4:29 pm


Kevin, I infer from your previous comment that you see Bush overreaching in his powers because he believes God has asked him to, or that God’s will is more powerful than the will of Congress. I just don’t see it. I didn’t mean to imply this. Bush’s understanding of the role of the Presidency is completely different than mine, but I believe the cause of his overreaching is secular in nature and not religious. But when an unwillingness to subject himself to review is coupled with his known personal convictions it creates serious issues that I think we’d be remiss to ignore. Wallis, on the other hand, has taken the liberty of comparing Bush to the Antichrist in the name of “God’s politics”, and has made the case that Social Security reform would violate the commandment that we honor our mothers and fathers. Shall we test those ideas against the logic of the public square? The former is a theologucal argument that can only be had within Christianity – it was never intended for public policy debate.The latter is a point I’d love to debate in the public forum. Should we be obligated to care for the elderly, our parents and others’ parents? I would argue yes, that it is our responsibility to ensure the well-being of our fellow human beings. I am not willing to watch elderly people starve on the streets over swings in the stock market.



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 4:30 pm


Kevin; “Were the prophets partisan Democrats, or what?” Engage the bashing of poor, unethical, etc behavior of Republicans here and go to your Republican site and out Democrats. You sound like a 2nd grader whining “they are just as bad as we are”.



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 4:30 pm


Mike Hayes, Thank you. I agree about the action opportunities and will be sure to let them know.



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Insight

posted January 30, 2007 at 4:30 pm


butch: you seem to abandon the argument by taunting me to give you a laundry list of “things that I’m doing”. i “resist to list” because one cannot quantify helping people–that’s the trap of much of evangelicalism, where they count “how many souls were saved” at the revival; it’s the numbers game that is pervasive in the church. how big, how wide, how large, how many is the american way. you tempt me, but no. i can’t–i won’t do it! moreover, i’m not into comparing how big mine is to yours! that’s playground mentality that males are socialized for in america (part of the problem with male leadership in the church). one thing i am doing is putting my thoughts into the public square and allowing them to be critiqued. the hope is that through engagement of ideas (iron sharpening iron), there may emerge a new vision and transformation for all of us–within and beyond the many “things that we do” however “big” or “small”, if you want to wallow in quantitative venues. all i ask for is strong dialogue, butch; not demonizing. i appreciate your willingness to challenge me. gooday.



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Insight

posted January 30, 2007 at 4:37 pm


Daniel: I appreciate your insight regarding debates and discussion that can only find real significance within Christian circles. This is much of my concern when it comes to SJ and the popularity of this “movement”. SJ is quickly morphing into a Christian PAC whose theology is fading; it wants to engage in the public dialoge (which is necessary) but with tools that are increasingly political and are bolstered by the Washington political elite. I’m concerned that SJ/Wallis may desire to be “of the world” but not necessarily “in it”. gooday.



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 4:43 pm


My vision is a group however small agrees to do something and acts. If they ask for your critique then give it or having acted they come back and ask, “how am I doing”?Lets take the “War on Terror”, Who disagrees with the conduct of the “War”, ok you are on that committee. Let that group attempt to come to consensus and report back. Then who will act on that agreement? The opposite committee meets to support the “War” and reports back, who will follow them? This shouting match accomplishes nothing, which is why I don’t like the Republi-Nazi’s coming here to interfere with finding a consensus.



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 4:44 pm


jesse, I believe Bush’s statements are unreasonable. I do not believe America is God’s chosen nation tasked with ridding the world of evil. To the extent we can accept that as reasonable its eems to me we ought to have no problem with the claims of Islamic fascism but to teh extent that we are no Muslims ourselves. But my real problem is that Bush doesn’t seem to think he is subject to all the normal checks and balances in the system. It is when these are no longer binding for him that these statements become problematic.Jim’s statements about faith and works are predicated upon the idea that the government is We the People and that We the People should do works together as a society. Conservatives might counter that the government is not We the People but an elected Republic for the common defense and that our works ought to be done individually. The problem we run into is that the government has the role it has because the individualistic model failed. The lessons of the New Deal have theological & ethical implications. It might be perfectly true that we don’t need a Nanny State in terms fo fishing for people, but as a society we still have a responsibility to teach them to fish just the same. If we refuse the self-evident responsibility to ensure each others rights then we gut the basis of the United States of America.Jim’s argument applies to America as a whole, not to individuals. Herbert Hoover was one of the most generous and charitable Americans of his day but America under his guidance accepted no responsibility for one another. FDR said upon winning the election that the people affirmed the adage “We are our brother’s keeper.” For the life of me I cannot see how this lesson has been disproven.



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 4:58 pm


jesse, Of course, Wallis likes to paint Bush as a radical lunatic who does everything just because God told him to. It’s easier to dismiss someone than engage any of their arguments. This very blog site is riddled with post after post about inspections for WMD, faulty intelligence, flawed ideas about a new surge, etc – all normative arguments – and responses to deterrence theory and big stick foreign policy – which paints Bush as having a competing but tragically incorrect philosophy. Basically, I think you’re WAY off base here.



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 4:58 pm


insight “I’m concerned that SJ/Wallis may desire to be “of the world” but not necessarily “in it”.” Every movement eventually reaches this point but Sojo is not even close and no warning ever stopped a movement from becoming “in it”.Nothing is perfect but Sojo isn t broke, quite trying to fix it. When Sojo gets there I’ll leave.



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kevin s.

posted January 30, 2007 at 5:11 pm


“This shouting match accomplishes nothing, ” Then quit shouting.



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 5:12 pm


Kevin, The House just passed a resolution allowing representatives from non-states to vote in the house. If the Republicans had done that, we would assuredly be hearing about how the prophets would be making their way to the White House lawn. This is a long-standing argument. Democrats want non-state delegates (from DC, Guam, etc) to vote only in the Committee on the Whole and only if their votes did not affect the final outcome – and the new bill explictly makes sure this restraint is still the case. If the Democrats made the votes count decisively I think there might be grounds for complaint.



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 5:13 pm


insight I don’t give Sojo longer than 2 years before we need a new direction. All of your arguments could have been made to ML King before or during his time but he accomplished a great deal. In the meantime we need to elect a congress that believes in oversight, ask questions, stop this unitary presidency idea, a president that calls himself “the decider” and replace him with one who says what do want me to do?



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 5:16 pm


Insight, I understand. Jim has a core conviction that real change can only come from grassroots movements, but Sojourners is designed to be the political mouthpiece for the very movement they are trying to spread. There is always the risk of acting politically faster than you are acting culturally. I hope, over the long run, that we Sojo types can mind that gap….



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 5:18 pm


Kevin, I don’t think you were the 1st to respond to this question but you ususally are, then you do everything to take the subject somewhere else. Stop being a Republi-Nazi apoligist for the neo-cons.



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robstur

posted January 30, 2007 at 5:22 pm


Insight | 01.30.07 – 11:42 am |SJ is quickly morphing into a Christian PAC whose theology is fading; it wants to engage in the public dialogue (which is necessary) but with tools that are increasingly political and are bolstered by the Washington political elite. Here is a ‘robsturism’ that I learned from my dad. ‘Be careful of what you assail against for many time you quickly become what you are fighting.’ I am about ready to start a site where people can logon and talk about the issues, come to terms what the end result should be and then plan their strategy to make it happen. Where pro-life and pro-environment people can support each others efforts and not dis the other for their views. Where truly being a ‘diverse’ (I do not like the ‘D’ word) will be honored and celebrated by all. Works for me…have a great day! .



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 5:23 pm


butch, Kevin…. Stop being a Republi-Nazi apoligist for the neo-cons. I realize you are frustrated but please don’t call people names. Especially “Nazi.” Many Jewish people believe this trivializes their experiences by making the Holocaust and the Nazi regime seem less bad – it lowers the standard for what it means to be a Nazi. Also, Kevin is within rights now to inboke Godwin’s Law: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_Law



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 5:24 pm


Sorry, that’s “invoke Godwin’s Law.”



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Rick Nowlin

posted January 30, 2007 at 5:36 pm


Kevin — “Yet, the ongoing struggles of Harry Reid, William Jefferson, Sandy Berger, etc… Don’t see the light of day. The House just passed a resolution allowing representatives from non-states to vote in the house. If the Republicans had done that, we would assuredly be hearing about how the prophets would be making their way to the White House lawn.” Except for Jefferson (who lost a chance of leadership because of his scandals), the media, with an assist from the right, has mischaracterized the situations with Democrats you mention. Furthermore, these days almost all the “prophets” are coming from the political left, simply because the right is too powerful and far too established to operate independently the way prophets should. In essence there are no “right-wing” prophets in this country for the simple reason that they already have a large audience.



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Insight

posted January 30, 2007 at 5:36 pm


Hey robstur: I appreciate your caution to me (all of us). a dose of humility and self-examination is always healthy. i encourage you as you move forward with your goal for more diaologue. i will let you (and butch) in on something: i have a weblog that deals with many of these issues, but i’m not interested in promoting it on this site. opportunism seems to be the temptation of the day–even among us Christian people, so i won’t publish it. others have mentioned my site here, but i resist. in addition, a group of us in washington are organizing conferences to discuss these kinds of issues (are you happy butch?). critique is a necessary component for growth. thanks. gooday.



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 5:41 pm


Daniel, I know exactly what Godwin’s Law is and the term fits the crime. The world as I knew it is coming apart and I’ll not engage in academic word games with professional wordsmith’s. How do you think Germany became what led to the holocaust, people played pity-pat with serious matters while the despots did the deed. Who will protect the Jews when the despots need a new demon.



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Insight

posted January 30, 2007 at 5:45 pm


hey butch: we agree! SJ will have to find a new drum in less than 2 years. even if SJ did nothing, the landscape will change with the new congress. Jim clouds the issues by personally attacking Bush (Antichrist allusions, etc.). that kind of stuff demonstrates that Jim usually is shooting from the hip with unregulated passion (and it borders on irresponsible ministry). i’m tough on Jim and SJ because ministers take vows for their ordination (I speak as a minister), and fervent passion that is co-opted by political opportunists (ie. the radio address by Jim on behalf of the Democrats) marked another significant turn of events for SJ and its penchant for Washington political alliance. We should remember that the next president will require multiple millions of dollars to gain the White House. So is SJ participating in the favors that will be required to promote its candidate of choice? thanks butch. gooday.



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 5:57 pm


When we get closer to the next election then the various candidates will need to know how we feel and we need to speak to them. I think Sojo should get behind one candidate Rep or Dem prior to Nov 08, in the mean time we need to find direction around issues we agree on. I personally like congress held by one party and the executive held by the other since we don’t have a real 3rd party or independent. Republicans disappointed me greatly using congress to attack Clinton endlessly while many important issues went unaddressed except those promoted by the Abramoffisse’s.



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 6:01 pm


insight “marked another significant turn of events for SJ and its penchant for Washington political alliance” Well Rev. where the hell do you think change comes from in our secular Republic except political alliances? My political alliance is good until the next election.



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Insight

posted January 30, 2007 at 6:14 pm


butch, butch, butch!!! you make me want to scream!!!!! YOU SAY: ” When we get closer to the next election then the various candidates will need to know how we feel and we need to speak to them. I think Sojo should get behind one candidate Rep or Dem prior to Nov 08, in the mean time we need to find direction around issues we agree on.” There will be no monolithic voice from Christians!!! that’s cultic, and dangerous!!! Remember the Moral Majority? Christian Coalition??? What are you thinking? Freedom of Conscience is the key factor that must be preserved within Christian communities. That freedom cannot, and should not be jeapardized for any single politician–no matter Repub or Democrat. A vote does not equal an alliance; it only represents a well-thought out expression of one’s freedom. A great thing about this country is that one can choose to vote or not vote–for whatever candidate one chooses. That works in the case of Freedom of Conscience. don’t confuse ministry with Democratic socialism. both can be helpful to the needy, but their origins are quite different. despite our differences–you’re the man, butch! gooday.



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Michael K.

posted January 30, 2007 at 6:25 pm


Jim Wallis wrote: “I have said and written many times that I think a good and fair discussion of how a candidate’s faith shapes his or her political values should be viewed as an appropriate and positive thing it’s as relevant as any other fact about a politician’s background, convictions, and experience for public office.At least at this moment in time, I wish candidates wouldn t talk about their religion. First, widespread talk about religion in political campaigns may make it more difficult for atheists and agnostics to get elected to many public offices in the US. If they run for office and indicate that they don t believe that there is a God, it may hurt their chances of getting elected to some public offices. And if they don t even mention that they don t believe that there is a God, I worry that it will hurt their chances of getting elected to some public offices in the US. Many voters may be less apt to vote for a candidate if the candidate does not talk about religion. I worry that some atheists and agnostics don t run for public office, because they think they wouldn t have a good chance of winning; and they don t want to lie and say their believe in God when they don t. Moreover, I believe that there are no Gods, and I m strongly warranted in making this inference. But in political campaigns, my position doesn t get heard. This may contribute to many people not realizing how reasonable my position is. Moreover, since religion in the US often takes the form of Biblical literalism, I worry that the way religion is discussed in US political life may contribute to many people believe things that are unwarranted or false, for instance, the virgin birth or creationism. Many people hear political leaders talk about their faith, so I worry that they assume that it is not problematic to believe that the universe is less than 10,000 years old. If one s saying that one is an atheist or agnostic wouldn t make it harder for one to get elected, then I suspect it would be good for candidates to talk about whether there is a God. We could have a genuine national debate on whether is a God. It would help many people get a better understanding of whether there is a God, and also improve the critical thinking skills of many people. Jim Wallis wrote: “The more talk in political campaigns about values, the better, and religion is a primary source of values for many Americans.What do you mean by values? I do think many US citizens have the beliefs about ethics that they do partly because of their religion. Jim Wallis wrote: Minority religions and nonreligious people must always be respected and protected in our nation, but the core commitments of religious liberty are not compromised by an open discussion of faith and public life.” Right now in many parts of the US, I suspect core commitments of religious liberty are indeed compromised by an open discussion of faith and public life. Because atheists and agnostics are disadvantaged. If they say that they are atheists or agnostics, it may hurt their chances of getting elected. And if they don t even mention their views on religion, it may hurt their chances of getting elected. A consequence of this is that the atheists and agnostic positions are not getting heard as much as they should. They are reasonable positions.



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kevin s.

posted January 30, 2007 at 6:25 pm


“Who will protect the Jews when the despots need a new demon.” At present, conservatives are leading the charge against anti-Semitism, while Democrats are playing “pitty-pat” with the issue by electing Jew-hating scourges like Keith Ellison. Did you read Jeff Halper’s comments on Elie Wiesel on this blog? Please. Further, it is conservatives who are voicing bioethical concerns about advancements in human cloning. It was biological advancement, absent the discussion of these concerns, that laid the groundwork for the quest for a master race.I will concede that you have demonstrated no concern with discussing these issues with any level of discernment that anyone would ever construe as “academic”. You and Donny seem rather to be interested in throwing snowballs at those with whom you disagree. Pitty-pat, indeed.



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 6:34 pm


I go to St Paul United Methodist Church services preceded by Sunday School and participate in other activities such as Stephen (sp) Ministry.I’m not here for my faith, it is firm. This is politics and I don’t want it to be Methodist or any other sect (maybe not the best term). I do bring my faith to my thoughts but we still need to change the direction from a unitary Presidency and the influence of the religious right. All that said, people of faith can find agreement on important points. What are those points of agreement. This place doesn’t need Republi-Nazi’s to divert the discussion from central issues or you to instruct us on faith or the application of faith. And I do understand your concerns, but we don’t have time to play games or spend all of our time with details. Maybe so if the issues weren’t so big. I’ll give you credit for what you want to do but we don’t have time and I don’t really think this is the place.



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 6:55 pm


insight “A vote does not equal an alliance; it only represents a well-thought out expression of one’s freedom.” For me that is exactly what it is, whom do I align with NOW and for what. I’m not running so I have to be aligned with someone or some group. Having said that I want to influence that person or group and it will not be separated from my faith. I have a friend with many grand holier than thou ideals; he supports every loser you can imagine. He has no voice in OUR political system as it is configured today. We only get 2 sides and I want to vote for the better of those 2.



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 7:02 pm


Kevin; “At present, conservatives are leading the charge” “Further, it is conservatives who are voicing” I rest my case, you are here to forward the conservative agenda and nothing more and work tirelessly to do that or keep the attention diverted from the Republi-nazi neo-cons who got us here.



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Michael K.

posted January 30, 2007 at 7:09 pm


I wrote: “Right now in many parts of the US, I suspect ‘core commitments of religious liberty are’ indeed ‘compromised by an open discussion of faith and public life.’ Because atheists and agnostics are disadvantaged.” I should add something. An open discussion that occurs during a political campaign (for instance, during a televised political debate) of whether political candidates should talk about their religion would be good. It is an important issue in the US today. For one, atheists and agnostics are probably disadvantaged in some parts of the US in terms of running for office. And having candidates discuss the issue could help many people come up with a better understanding of to what extent, if at all, one s religion should be discussed during a political campaign. However, what I don t want is for candidates to just talk about their religion — in the sense of telling people that they are, for instance, “people of faith.” It puts the atheist and agnostic in a difficult position. If he or she says that he or she is atheist or agnostic, it might hurt their chances of getting elected. And if he or she doesn t even mention his or her views on religion, it might hurt his or her chances of getting elected; for it seems that many US citizens want their elected representatives to demonstrate that they are religious. However, if we could get to a point where the atheist or agnostic candidate wouldn’t be disadvantaged for talking about his or her views on religion, then it would be probably be good for candidates to talk about their views on religion. We could have a national debate on whether there is a God.



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robstur

posted January 30, 2007 at 7:22 pm


To Whom: Republi-nazi neo-consCan we leave out the %^& ‘Nazi’ label. That is so offensive – so over the mark that it really is a major stumbling block for discussion. I can handle many things and labels but that one demeans the person who is it directed at and cheapens what actually happen during WWII. Stop the attack – PLEASE! .



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 7:36 pm


Rob if more had stood up and called the Nazi’s what they were prior to WWII there may not have been a WWII? I called the neo-cons despots exactly like Hitler, Stalin, etc prior to Iraq and no one listened. And I don’t want the Republi-Nazi’s to take us into Iran now or get off the hook for the mess we are in.Truth, truth you can’t stand the TRUTH.



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 7:39 pm


We could have a national debate on whether there is a God. Michael K. | 01.30.07 – 2:14 pm | #That would finally settle the age old question because when the US speaks the world listens.



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 7:51 pm


butch, Two things. First, please stop with the “Nazi” insults. Aside from being unciviland ourrageous, it is somewhat pointless – Kevin does not deny he is here to present a conservative viewpoint.Second, props on the Stephen ministry. I believe that is one of the greatest lay ministries around.



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 8:00 pm


Kevin, Further, it is conservatives who are voicing bioethical concerns about advancements in human cloning. It was biological advancement, absent the discussion of these concerns, that laid the groundwork for the quest for a master race. I agree with you. I realize, to, that is linked to the debate over Terri Schiavo and aborting deformed or Down’s Syndrome babies: We DO NOT want to start deciding whose life is worth living and who is better off dead.It’s a Brave New World and the Left doesn’t seem to worried about it.



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 8:00 pm


Sorry, that’s “too”



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 8:08 pm


Daniel, you call it an insult, I call it a statement of fact. If I were dealing with a man of good will I would use gentler terms to persuade. I’ve followed the Neo-Con agenda for years. Did anyone see Cheney mention very quietly and gently about dealing with the dark side. Then we learned of Abu-Garub and “Rendering”. I bet many of the Nazi’s who took Jews off to concentration camps used gentle terms to put them on the trains.



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Blake

posted January 30, 2007 at 8:16 pm


butch | 01.30.07 – 2:07 pm | “I rest my case.” Music to my ears!!



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 8:20 pm


Michael K, To me it sounds as if you want it to be okay for candidates to hide anything that might make them less likely to get elected. There needs to be a reason to exclude faith from public life other than that you’d like to get a little power. What’s the benefit to society? It is a perfectly acceptable statement today to say that faith is a personal matter and that public matters ought to be decided not based on any given religion’s rules and regulations but on the principles in America’s founding documents. Barack Obama did exactly that in Illinois in 2004 despite the fact that he is a Christian. But Jim Wallis argues that religious faith is personal but not private. I agree, and Obama now does too.I believe it is not a benefit but a penalty for society to exclude faith from the table, and here’s an example why. John Kerry said he believed in helping the poor because of Jesus. Kerry went beyond that and said that we have a responsibility to ensure all Americans have Opportunity and that we were failing our fellow Americans. A reasonable argument, but not a rational argument – there is no rational basis for Rights, they are implicitly based on faith in the rights themselves. A utilitarian or materialist has no basis from which to make claims about rights. As such, anyone who denies self-evident rights claims will find themselves disenfranchised and unelectable with good reason – it’s something like an anarchist running for President.



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 8:23 pm


butch, Comparing Abu Ghraib to a Nazi concentration camp is unconvincing. It’s tough to hear about Kevin lacking goodwill when his statements are substantive and you’re calling him a Nazi. Again, if I were kevin I’d drop Godwin’s Law, claim the debate as win, and move on.



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robstur

posted January 30, 2007 at 8:29 pm


butch | 01.30.07 – 2:41 pm | Truth, truth you can’t stand the TRUTH. You really are a piece of work. It is OK for you to use the NAZI word at will in this day and age of intolerance and PC speech.You are your type have labeled others enough and enough is enough. I have tough skin and can abide most anything. But this is too over the top for me. So Republicans are right up there with Stalin and other despots.Well – you have one less despot to deal with – have a great life. Mingus, Mike and others – it s been ‘real’. I love talking the issues and bantering back and forth. I just have no time for NAZI labels among other. (One of Butch’s challenges to me was post again robstur and I will show you just how stupid you really are .) No time for this $%^&* Have a great life – maybe we will find each other on another site – I will use the same handle. If anyone hears from my cousin Radical Moderate – tell him to call me and I will buy the adult bev. Be blessed! .



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 8:31 pm


If I were me I would meet him exactly where I find him! A talented wordsmith skilled in deception has power that I won’t give him. The matters debated here will effect the next election and I’m finished with the neo-con warmongers hiding in sheeps clothing. Blake thank you for your affirmation, far kinder than I deserve!



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Michael K.

posted January 30, 2007 at 8:44 pm


Butch wrote: “That would finally settle the age old question because when the US speaks the world listens.” Today there wouldn t be much, if any, of a debate among US politicians on whether there is a God, because I suspect any US politicians who are atheists or agnostics would be reluctant to argue for their position. However, a debate between Daniel Dennett, Tom Nagel or Steven Weinberg and, say, Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee or Mario Cuomo could be fairly interesting to me. And maybe it would help some citizens get a better understanding of whether there is a God.Another option for a debate topic would be the following: Should political candidates discuss their views on religion during political campaigns. If we could find some US political leaders to take the position that candidates should not talk about religion and others to take the position that candidates should talk about their religion, it could be an interesting debate. It is an important issue. For one, it seems to me that when religion and politics are combined, it tends to contribute to some people believing that God favors the political positions that they hold. It is highly problematic for people to assert, or suggest, in the course of a political campaign that God favors certain political positions, because then it makes it harder for people to discuss the political issue involved in a political arena in the US; because US candidates don t want to be perceived by the electorate as being atheist, agnostic or antagonist toward religion. I saw a debate on religion a few years ago on CSPAN between Alan Dershowitz and Alan Keyes. I can t remember the exact proposition that they were supposed to be debating; as they jumped all over the place, and they didn t hit any issue with great rigor. The debate wasn’t great; it wasn’t even good. But I watched most of it. And I found it somewhat interesting. Just to have the issue of religion seriously debated when one of the debaters (Dershowitz) is an agnostic or atheist was refreshing.



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 8:46 pm


Rob is this the 5th or 6th time you’ve announced that you won’t be back?



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Insight

posted January 30, 2007 at 8:49 pm


butch: thanks for the dialogue/debate. i’m ending this one. given that you’ve engaged me for the past 12 hours or so, i guess i’m not “nuts” after all. otherwise, you would also be a nut. i’m outta here. (I hope you’ve been reading Jim). godday to all!



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Carl Copas

posted January 30, 2007 at 8:55 pm


Insight, Please tell us the name of your blog that you mentioned in a previous post. It sounds interesting and useful. Butch, what did you put in your chai tea this morning? You’e beginning to sound like as much of a caricature as does Donny. Please study some history, esp. about Nazis; I disagree with kevin almost all the time (still at a loss why he comes on here) but he is emphatically NOT a Nazi–not close, not within a million light years. Robstur, I hope you are not leaving for good. I will pray for you regardless. I am a relatively new Christian. But am I being naive or impertinent to suggest that we all take a break, prayerfully commune with God for a few, then return in a Christian frame of mind?



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Rick Nowlin

posted January 30, 2007 at 9:01 pm


The question about religion in public life is now, was before and will be in the future the following: Will politicians who subscribe to a particular expression of religious faith seek to exclude others of a different persuasion in the name of God? In other words, what does “believing in God” mean at this juncture and how is that played out? I don’t really believe that Jim Wallis is seeking to exclude “other voices” from the debete, but in my experience the “religious right” is because it wants to determine what Christian faith is and how it is expressed in day-to-day life. And since the current President is allied with the religious right it affects not only his policies but how he responds to people who don’t agree with him (which, of course, for all practical purposes he doesn’t). That’s why his leadership since the war in Iraq began has practically been nonexistant.



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 9:09 pm


I’ve actually studied the Nazi’s at length and know a lot about how they did the things they did. Controling the message, taking away access to the courts, torture, draging people off to remote prisons without access to an attorney. Does any of this ring any bells. Madeup reasons to start wars.



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robstur

posted January 30, 2007 at 9:14 pm


butch | 01.30.07 – 3:51 pm |One last time for clarification. The others times was blowing you off – but got sucked back – my fault. No – I am leaving. I see no reason to discuss here on this site. I am one wonderful conservative with many liberal friends. I disagree with much of what they say but always respect them and would never label them like I have been here.I would rather go in for weekly root cannel than posts here with how you get treated.So Butch – you now have your mutual admiration society with one less Republic-N*%! Carl Copas – will continue to pray for you – always. Do not judge ‘christians’ by my faults and failings. God is good all the time. .



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 9:15 pm


For the love of God, stop running off the conservatives. Jim Wallis does not believe conservatives are bad, wrong, or underhanded. I do not believe this either. If our ideas and beliefs are the more correct ones, they will hold their own without our excluding others. As followers of Jesus, we are committed to engaging those who disagree in nonviolence – which means no judging, no putting down, no oppression – respect, consideration, and civility are required. It is not robstur and Kevin who midunderstand the site – it’s butch. This is not a sight for liberals to pow-wow and stroke each others’ egos and get into nitpicky arguments. This site was established to facilitate a conversation and debate between conservative and liberal religious folk of the Christian tradition. Don’t hijack it, just go to Daily Kos or start something else. If the other contributors here allow for this site to become a liberal love-in I will also be leaving.



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Michael K.

posted January 30, 2007 at 9:15 pm


Daniel wrote: To me it sounds as if you want it to be okay for candidates to hide anything that might make them less likely to get elected. If a candidate has embezzled large sums of money, it is important for the electorate to know that the candidate has done so, for there is a reason to believe that a person who has embezzled large sums of money may have difficulty being a good political leader. However, it is good for people not to know that a candidate is an atheist; because, for many voters, if they know that the candidate is an atheist, it will make them less likely to vote for the candidate. And being an atheist does not make it more difficult for one to be a good political leader. Also, it is reasonable to believe that there is no God. In fact, it is the more reasonable position. It is a perfectly acceptable statement today to say that faith is a personal matter and that public matters ought to be decided not based on any given religion’s rules and regulations but on the principles in America’s founding documents. Do you mean that if a political candidate said this, it wouldn t disadvantage the candidate in terms of getting elected? You might be right. I sure hope you re right. Barack Obama did exactly that in Illinois in 2004 despite the fact that he is a Christian. But Jim Wallis argues that religious faith is personal but not private. I agree, and Obama now does too. I’m not sure what you mean when you say “religious faith is personal but not private.” At this moment in time, political candidate should not talk about their religion, or we should have some candidates say that they are not religious and why they are not religious. I believe it is not a benefit but a penalty for society to exclude faith from the table, and here’s an example why. I don’t think “society should exclude faith from the table.” A political candidate should not be fined for talking about his or her religion. However, at least at this moment time, candidates should not talk about their religion or some candidates should say they are not religious and why. A reasonable argument, but not a rational argument – there is no rational basis for Rights, they are implicitly based on faith in the rights themselves. What do you mean? A utilitarian or materialist has no basis from which to make claims about rights. What do you mean? As such, anyone who denies self-evident rights claims will find themselves disenfranchised and unelectable with good reason – it’s something like an anarchist running for President. What do you mean by “denies self-evident rights claims?”



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 9:18 pm


robstur, I know you have been judged and marginalized and made to feel that you are the alien on this forum. You’re the one in this discussion who has been contributing a long time and who plays an important role in mediating these tense discussions. I personally have benefitted from your participation and I’d like to ask you to stay as a favor to me.



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Michael K.

posted January 30, 2007 at 9:26 pm


I wrote: “However, it is good for people not to know that a candidate is an atheist; because, for many voters, if they know that the candidate is an atheist, it will make them less likely to vote for the candidate. And being an atheist does not make it more difficult for one to be a good political leader. Also, it is reasonable to believe that there is no God. In fact, it is the more reasonable position.” The ideal, of course, would be for people not to hold it against a candidate if he or she is an atheist or agnostic. But since I worry that the US is not to that point quite yet, I worry about candidates talking about religion. If the majority of voters want candidates to demonstrate that they are religious, then atheists and agnostics are going to be disadvantaged in terms of getting elected. If they say they are atheists or agnostics, it might make it harder for them to get elected. If they don t talk about their religion, it might make it harder for them to get elected. And they shouldn t lie. It would be good to have some atheists and agnostics run for office and indicate that they are atheist or agnostic and why they are. That might help many people understand that being atheist or agnostic does not make it more difficult for one to be a good political leader. And it also might help them realize that there probably is no God.



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Carl Copas

posted January 30, 2007 at 9:26 pm


Daniel: “If the other contributors here allow for this site to become a liberal love-in I will also be leaving.” Agreed.



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 9:31 pm


Michael K, And being an atheist does not make it more difficult for one to be a good political leader. This is what I was getting at – it makes it far more difficult, if not impossible. The foundation of all American rights is that We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Now, we can take the created and Creator out and just say that men are equal and endowed with inalienable rights, but we still have these self-evident rights left. This is the basis of democracy – there is a social contract naturally established among people – I am responsible to ensure your life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness and your are responsible for mine. A utilitarian/materialist has no basis for this belief. It would be nonsense for a materialist to say “rights.” for example, how can I have a “right” to Life if I can be killed and will eventually die? Materialism reduces rights to pragmatic arrangements – there are no “rights” that every human being ought to be accorded just on account of being alive, the US just decided based on its Western biases that these rights exist and we made it so by fiating through a cultural edict. So the utilitarian must say you have a right only because the state says you do. If the state says you no longer have the right to chew gum, then it is wrong to chew gum. This is why Socialist states were so forceful in their limitations of freedom – whoever has the power defines morality and there are no objective standards for testing their determinations. Might makes right.



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 9:31 pm


Daniel ” Don’t hijack it” I don’t intend to or allow others to sneak in and steal it with well-crafted words. I may not understand or I may understand it differently. Don’t mind a discussion point by point but will not go along with what I see as a lie. Dump a load of crap in my yard and I’ll shovel it back over the fence and “I’m ready to play nice”. I’ll tell how I do understand this site, I want to talk about a few things among them are: Children go to school hungry and come home to inadequate health care. Elderly are choosing between food and medicine. The mentally ill live on the street out of grocery carts. Young people are dying every day in Iraq. We are squandering our fortune and good name in the world.



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jesse

posted January 30, 2007 at 9:33 pm


This very blog site is riddled with post after post about inspections for WMD, faulty intelligence, flawed ideas about a new surge, etc – all normative arguments – and responses to deterrence theory and big stick foreign policy – which paints Bush as having a competing but tragically incorrect philosophy. Basically, I think you’re WAY off base here. –Daniel, I don’t deny that they address some arguments made by the Bush administration. My point is why are non-controversial statements Bush makes in private at all relevant? The fact that Sojo at times addresses his substantive arguments is proof that he’s not just going about things “because he heard it from God.” This is a false charge. It’s kind of silly and pointless for Wallis to attack Bush’s alleged theology. It’s difficult to deny that, for whatever reason, Wallis loves getting in jabs at Bush and religious conservatives. This just seems like more of the same pointless attacks.



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Michael K.

posted January 30, 2007 at 9:36 pm


This is what I was getting at – it makes it far more difficult, if not impossible. You’re wrong. I know many atheists who are or would be excellent political leaders. The current President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, is an atheist or agnostic, and she is doing a good job. Mitterand was probably an atheist or agnostic, and he did a good job. Same with the current Prime Minister of New Zealand. Many or my close friends and family members are other examples of atheists or agnostics who would be good political leaders.



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HASH(0x118ad864)

posted January 30, 2007 at 9:36 pm


butch, We don’t each get to determine what this site is for. Jim Wallis, Sojourners, and Beliefnet already set out their purpose. It’s not what you want it to be.



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 9:37 pm


Sorry, that was me.



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butch

posted January 30, 2007 at 9:46 pm


I will conduct myself as my faith directs and don’t think I don’t understand that you want to help the blog and me. I’ve said I think it should be moderated and kept on point of the original post and that post should be simple from my point of view. Then it would be difficult for anyone to hijack the list including me. We get so far a field that I seldom know what the original post was.



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Michael K.

posted January 30, 2007 at 9:49 pm


Daniel wrote: The foundation of all American rights is that We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. For whatever it is worth, the quote you refer to is part of the Declaration of Independence, which is not a legally binding document in the US. The US Constitution is. It has two references to religion. First, it says: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. Second, it says: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof For the sake of argument, let s say that all of the framers of the US Constitution were theists. That is irrelevant to whether I know that being an atheist makes it harder for one to be a good political leader. Most of them favored slavery, and we shouldn’t have slavery. In fact, in the US Constitution blacks counted as three-fifths of a person in terms of apportionment. And women were not allowed to vote. Now, we can take the created and Creator out and just say that men are equal and endowed with inalienable rights, but we still have these self-evident rights left. What do you mean by self-evident rights? It would be nonsense for a materialist to say “rights.” for example, how can I have a “right” to Life if I can be killed and will eventually die? That people will die doesn t enable one to determine that human life isn t important. I don t even know what you are talking about. Human life is important partly because people die. We don t have much time. We should make the best of the little time we have.



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Michael K.

posted January 30, 2007 at 9:56 pm


So the utilitarian must say you have a right only because the state says you do. What do you mean by “utilitarian?” And why do you say “the utilitarian must say you have a right only because the state says you do?” If the state says you no longer have the right to chew gum, then it is wrong to chew gum. That the state says X it irrelevant to whether I’m warranted in inferring that X is true. States often get things wrong, for instance, blacks weren’t allowed to vote in the US for a long time. So if the state were to say that it is wrong to chew gum, that is irrelevant to whether I’m warranted in inferring that it is wrong.



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Mike Hayes

posted January 30, 2007 at 9:57 pm


http://action.savedarfur.org/dia/organizationsORG/darfur/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=6455 is an opportunity to ask the new UN Secretary General to place a priority on relief for persons in Darfur.



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 9:58 pm


Michael K, Bachelet and Mitterand would both stake their values on ‘egalitarianism.’ Please explain to me why egalitarianism is good.(I’ll have to respond tomorrow, even if there are 50 more comments before then. Have a good evening!)



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Daniel

posted January 30, 2007 at 10:00 pm


Michael K, I just saw your last 2 posts. Don;t have time to reply in full but this caught my eye: We should make the best of the little time we have. What enables you to make this claim? Am I entitled to just claim we should all just squander our time frivolously and have equal moral footing?



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Carl Copas

posted January 30, 2007 at 10:22 pm


Daniel: “It would be nonsense for a materialist to say ‘rights.’ for example, how can I have a “right” to Life if I can be killed and will eventually die?” Daniel, are you familiar with Ronald Dworkin’s theory of equality?



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Michael K.

posted January 30, 2007 at 10:29 pm


Bachelet and Mitterand would both stake their values on ‘egalitarianism.’ Please explain to me why egalitarianism is good. I don’t even know what you mean by that. Are your asking why one is warranted in believing that a given claim is true? Experience is important, and so is reason. But I don’t want to get into this right now. I recommend Bernard Gert’s book Morality: Its Nature and Justification, which I recommended to you before. Gert is a professor of philosophy at Dartmouth. I also recommend Tom Nagel’s View from Nowhere. You seem to be suggesting that one’s knowing that God believes that X is true is necessary and sufficient for one’s knowing that X is true. But what reason is there to believe this? First, there probably is no God. For the sake of argument, let’s say that there is a God. Its beliefs don’t cause any given claim to be one that I know to be true or false. For this being could be mistaken. If you want to assert that there exists a being who is not capable of being mistaken, then you are assuming that there are claims that are true or false independently of this beings’s beliefs. For just suggesting that someone or something is not capable of being mistaken suggests that the being understands everything that is true or false. And that suggests that there claims that are true or false independently of this being’s beliefs. And presumably some humans would be capable of figuring out some of these claims.



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Michael K.

posted January 30, 2007 at 10:39 pm


“What enables you to make this claim?” What do you mean? Are you asking what events caused me to have the ability to make the claim? Partly (though not entirely) it is my social conditioning. Genetics are important, too. Am I entitled to just claim we should all just squander our time frivolously and have equal moral footing? You are “entitled” in the sense that you have, under the US Constitution, the legal right to claim that “we should all just squander our time frivolously and have equal moral footing.” But it is not good for one to squander all of one’s time frivolously. For the vast majority of people, if not all, it is good to spend some of one’s time doing frivolous things.



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Pikov

posted January 31, 2007 at 12:06 am


As Jim wrote: “Religious people don’t get to win just because they are religious (in a nation that is often claimed to be Judeo-Christian). They, like any other citizens, have to convince their fellow citizens that what they propose is best for the common good for all of us and not just the religious.” Doesn’t the Apostle Paul say in that he will become all things to all people in order that some will be saved? Doesn’t it make sense that laws that are morally right, but not necessaily religion-specific, would be in the best interest of all citizens? And if, lo-and-behold, it is discovered that the person who authored it is religious, will it really matter? Policy-making is about fundamental decisions that drive actions. I pray for policymakers that are fundamentally moral, ethical, honest and have a sense of humor. Your flavor of religion shouln’t really matter.



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Michael K.

posted January 31, 2007 at 12:34 am


Reading through my posts, I don t think I made as clear as I would have liked my position on whether political candidates should talk about their religion. For political candidates in the US right now, it is important for them not to talk about their religion. For one thing, if few or no candidates talk about their religion, then a candidate’s being non-religious would not make it harder for the candidate to get elected. The non-religious candidate could not mention his or her lack of religion, and it wouldn’t hurt the candidate’s chances of getting elected. If the electorate doesn’t know whether a given candidate is an atheist, then the electorate won t hold the candidate’s atheism against the candidate. Moreover, I worry that right now in at least some parts of the US, a candidate’s not even mentioning his or her religious beliefs would hurt the candidate’s chances of getting elected. I worry that the majority of voters in some jurisdictions would be less apt to vote for a candidate if the candidate does not explicitly say that he or she is religious. If few or no candidates were to talk about their religion or lack thereof, then those candidates who are not religious wouldn’t be disadvantaged in terms of getting elected. However, maybe I’m wrong that the majority of voters in some jurisdictions in the US would be less apt to vote for a candidate if the candidate were not to talk about his or her religious beliefs or lack thereof. Maybe if the candidate were to refuse to talk about his or her religion or lack thereof, it wouldn’t hurt the candidate’s chances. If that is the case, that is obviously great. That is what I hope. When he ran for the Democratic nomination, Senator Bob Bradley refused to talk about his religious beliefs. I’m not sure whether his refusing to talk about his religious beliefs won him more votes than it cost him, whether it cost him more votes than it won him or whether it made no difference in terms of the total number of votes he received. Moreover, it probably would be good to have some non-religious candidates run for public office in the US now who, if they are asked, indicate that they are not religious. Don’t bring up the point gratuitously. But if asked by, say, a reporter what your religious beliefs are, indicate that you are not religious. This could hurt the candidate’s chances of getting elected. But it might help make it so that people become less inclined to hold it against a candidate if the candidate is not religious. In addition, it is possible that a candidate’s saying that he or she is not religious wouldn’t hurt the candidate’s chances of getting elected. Michelle Bachelet, when asked, said that she is an atheist. She was elected President of Chile. Maybe the same thing could happen in the US. That would be great.



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butch

posted January 31, 2007 at 2:02 am


Michael K I don’t disagree with any of your thread but to what end do you bring this point



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James

posted January 31, 2007 at 3:17 am


Donny: “Remember always, that the bottom-lin for people like Jim Wallis is Democrat socialism like godless Europe.” Ok, Donny sounds good to me. If we can get to “Democrat socialism like Europe” in the United State do you promise to leave and live elsewhere?



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Michael K.

posted January 31, 2007 at 3:26 am


Butch, one of my main points has been to respond to the following paragraphs by Jim Wallis: “I have said and written many times that I think a good and fair discussion of how a candidate’s faith shapes his or her political values should be viewed as an appropriate and positive thing it’s as relevant as any other fact about a politician’s background, convictions, and experience for public office. “The more talk in political campaigns about values, the better, and religion is a primary source of values for many Americans. Minority religions and nonreligious people must always be respected and protected in our nation, but the core commitments of religious liberty are not compromised by an open discussion of faith and public life.” I’m trying to figure out whether political candidates should ever discuss their religious beliefs, and if so, under what conditions they should do so. This has been a complicated issue for me. But let me lay some ideas out. First, no candidate should be sanctioned for discussing his or her religious beliefs. To use an extreme case, no candidate should be fined for discussing his or her religious beliefs. Second, prima facie, it is justifiable for a candidate to discuss his or her religious beliefs. It doesn t make it harder for anyone to have a good life. Third, in the vast majority of cases, it would be good for a given candidate not to talk about his or her religion. Then voters would focus on other more important issues than a person s religion or lack thereof when deciding whom to vote for, for instance, the person s health care plan, her attitude toward the United Nations, and her views on public education. Finally, at this moment in time, it would be good to have some non-religious candidates indicate that they are not religious if, but only if, they are first asked by a reporter about their religion. This might help make it so that one s not being religious will not make it harder for one to get elected. If voters see that non-religious people are, in general, ethical people, then voters will be more apt to vote for non-religious people for public office.



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Michael K.

posted January 31, 2007 at 3:31 am


I wrote: “Finally, at this moment in time, it would be good to have some non-religious candidates indicate that they are not religious if, but only if, they are first asked by a reporter about their religion. This might help make it so that one s not being religious will not make it harder for one to get elected. If voters see that non-religious people are, in general, ethical people, then voters will be more apt to vote for non-religious people for public office.” At least often — and maybe always — it would be better for the non-religious candidate not to say that he or she is not religious. It would be better just to refuse to answer the question. For one, if the candidate says that he or she is not religious, it might hurt his or her chances of getting elected.



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Michael K.

posted January 31, 2007 at 3:44 am


I wrote: “First, no candidate should be sanctioned for discussing his or her religious beliefs. To use an extreme case, no candidate should be fined for discussing his or her religious beliefs.” Obviously no candidate should be fined for discussing his or her religious beliefs. However, if the candidate says that he or she believes something ridiculous (for instance, that the universe is less than 10,000 years old), then the candidate’s comment should make voters less apt to vote for the candidate.



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Mike Hayes

posted January 31, 2007 at 3:46 am


Michael K, Thank you for participating!



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butch

posted January 31, 2007 at 3:49 am


I agree that religion should not matter in elections, they are not elected to be our spiritual leaders and there aren’t many if any that I would trust for that position. I want an ethical person to take care of my countries business. The simple reality is that it matters to enough to swing most any election so it s a mute point.



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Ms. Cynthia

posted January 31, 2007 at 3:52 am


Dear Michael K. There are times when society has their fill of the religiously zelous, especially when we become a little shrill or even violent. They often turn to someone who prefers not to acknowledge a relationship with a God, as a neutral choice. There are times when an agnostics serve their purpose when cooler heads are needed. I would be quite borred if there was not a diversity of thought on this blog. But try not to be so long winded and break up your paragraphs a little more so they are easier to read. And once in a while read something new for a change.



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butch

posted January 31, 2007 at 4:07 am


Cynthia bring a cool head to some of the issues facing us now? I like the idea of keeping it short, pick any one you like.



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butch

posted January 31, 2007 at 4:14 am


BTW, Well said is quickly said.



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Mike Hayes

posted January 31, 2007 at 4:17 am


I’ve tried to post this without success.. maybe this will work… http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/susan_jacoby/2007/01/enough_of_government_by_faith.html This link is an abbreviated version of Susan Jacoby’s take on religion and politics. An excerpt is: “… The great peril in citing religious rationales for any public course of action–say, ending the war in Iraq–is that there is always someone whose religion provides a rationale for doing the opposite…”. I think Susan presents a valid view. If a majority view in the US based on Judeo Christian scriptures should override the constitutional protections for gays and lesbians or pregnant women in the US, then why should the US stand in the way if Iraqi citizens want Sharia to become the law of the land in Iraq?



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Michael K.

posted January 31, 2007 at 4:18 am


They often turn to someone who prefers not to acknowledge a relationship with a God, as a neutral choice. I hope so. It is also important for voters not to be less apt to vote for a person who believes that no God exist. I’m in that category. I’m an atheist. There are times when an agnostics serve their purpose when cooler heads are needed. What do you mean “serve their purpose?” What “purpose” do you think agnostics have? And once in a while read something new for a change. I don’t see your point. What are you talking about?



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Michael K.

posted January 31, 2007 at 4:20 am


Butch wrote: “The simple reality is that it matters to enough to swing most any election so it s a mute point.” It is not a mute point. Because sometimes our actions help change society. My hope is that we can eventually get to a place when political candidates do not discuss their religious beliefs and/or that a person’s not being religious does not make people less apt to vote for the person.



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Michael K.

posted January 31, 2007 at 4:22 am


Mike Hayes wrote: “Thank you for participating!” Your welcome. Thanks for the comment.



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Mike Hayes

posted January 31, 2007 at 4:24 am


I think the beliefnet format could be improved by adding an opportunity for “off-group” communication between participants to allow clarifying questions to other participants.



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Mike Hayes

posted January 31, 2007 at 4:27 am


Yahoo! groups allow “off-group” communication between participants.



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butch

posted January 31, 2007 at 4:32 am


Mike, the issue of gays is working its way through legislatures and the courts, a big issue for some but not an issue that can be resolved or come to any agreement here. Abortion is settled law at this point although those who feel strong about the subject want to change those laws, also an area that will find no consensus here. Everything that could be said has been said. We have no long term effect on Iraqi law, further it is none our business.



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Michael K.

posted January 31, 2007 at 4:38 am


Butch wrote: “The simple reality is that it matters to enough to swing most any election so it s a mute point.” In the US, if a candidate were to say that she is not religious, it might hurt her chances of winning in some parts of the country. But in much of the rest of the world if the electorate knew that the candidate was not religious, it would not hurt the candidate’s chances of winning.



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butch

posted January 31, 2007 at 4:42 am


I to feel that the US has fallen behind the world in many ways that will lead to our downfall. This thought troubles me greatly but I’m here and will not leave so I want to make changes like you do but that isn’t one of them.



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Michael K.

posted January 31, 2007 at 4:47 am


Ms. Cynthia wrote: “There are times when society has their fill of the religiously zelous, especially when we become a little shrill or even violent. They often turn to someone who prefers not to acknowledge a relationship with a God, as a neutral choice. There are times when an agnostics serve their purpose when cooler heads are needed.” That a candidate is an agnostic should not be important in terms of whether one votes for the candidate. Agnosticism probably isn’t that helpful in terms of whether one would be a good elected representative. And even if it is a little helpful, there are many other factors that should matter much more to the electorate in terms of whom they vote for. For instance, what is the candidate’s position on health policy? What are the candidate’s views on the United Nations?



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Michael K.

posted January 31, 2007 at 4:50 am


Butch wrote: “I to feel that the US has fallen behind the world in many ways that will lead to our downfall. This thought troubles me greatly but I’m here and will not leave so I want to make changes like you do but that isn’t one of them.” There are more important issues than whether political candidates should talk about their religious beliefs or lack thereof. But it is one issue that is important to me. And the religious nature of many US political campaigns frustrates me.



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Mike Hayes

posted January 31, 2007 at 6:11 am


butch, My guess is that many persons who view these blog topics do not comment… whether or not agreement is reached among those of us who do comment may not reflect the overall outcome… and I’ve seen very little if any agreement, here, on anything… I’m not sure why Sojourners decided to begin this blog, considering that no other religious group has offered a similar opportunity… Focus on the Family and other similar groups can continue their focus on influencing members of congress to support their views on issues, while we invest significant effort to respond to those who support the views of Dobson (and others who share his views)…



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Daniel

posted January 31, 2007 at 2:35 pm


Michael K, I will continue our discussion but first I wanted to try and improve the exchange a bit. I feel frustrated at the nature of our exchanges. I want to connect with you but I’m having trouble. I’d like to request two things that might make it easier for me to access your comments. First, in the two exchanges we’ve had you’ve often replied that you don’t understand what is being asked or argued. Would you be willing to be specific about what you’d like clarified and hold off further commentary until we’re on the same page? Second, I often have reading suggestions for others as well, but it’s difficult for me to tell whether you perceive reading the same things as a prerequisite for the conversation. I’d like you to confirm for me that we can have a quality conversation without having identical mental libraries.



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Daniel

posted January 31, 2007 at 2:53 pm


Carl Copas, I have not been able to access Dworkin’s theory of equality. I often have this trouble with legal philosophers, though….



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Daniel

posted January 31, 2007 at 3:05 pm


Michael K, I copied and pasted your last posts above and it ended up being 4 solid pages in MS Word. To engage you properly I’ll have to wait until later today to post a reply. Bear with me, please.



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robstur

posted January 31, 2007 at 3:57 pm


Daniel | 01.30.07 – 4:23 pm |Can’t… I have been so labeled and continue to be so that anyone that would come onto the site for the first time and read would more than likely dismiss me and anything that I would have to say.When respect is lost -time to move on. I am no prophet but I believe this site will be one liberal chatt room in the next few months. Be blessed – just saw you post and thought I’d better respond. .



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Daniel

posted January 31, 2007 at 5:07 pm


Robstur, I fear you might be right about where this site is headed, unfortunately.*sigh* You will be missed. All the best! :-)



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kevin s.

posted January 31, 2007 at 5:08 pm


“I’m not sure why Sojourners decided to begin this blog, considering that no other religious group has offered a similar opportunity…” CBN has a message board, I believe. I think a lot of these groups are behind the times technologically, though.



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Daniel

posted January 31, 2007 at 5:08 pm


Michael K, I d like to start with this question you asked: What do you mean by self-evident rights? Before I answer, I d like to note that you have written: - we shouldn’t have slavery. – Human life is important partly because people die. We don t have much time. We should make the best of the little time we have. – But it is not good for one to squander all of one’s time frivolously. For the vast majority of people, if not all, it is good to spend some of one’s time doing frivolous things. – Maybe if the candidate were to refuse to talk about his or her religion or lack thereof, it wouldn’t hurt the candidate’s chances. If that is the case, that is obviously great. – …prima facie, it is justifiable for a candidate to discuss his or her religious beliefs. It doesn t make it harder for anyone to have a good life. These truths are presented as obvious. Slavery is wrong because it s wrong; people ought to be accorded equality and liberty. Not a single one of these statements is rational, every one of them is an article of faith. Notice that on this account you do not say, Slavery is probably wrong. You speak and act with the conviction of faith. But you do say, There probably is no God. Unlike when you evaluate slavery s being bad, when someone suggests there is a God out comes the abstract and purely rational language of logic: You seem to be suggesting that one’s knowing that God believes that X is true is necessary and sufficient for one’s knowing that X is true. But what reason is there to believe this? First, there probably is no God. For the sake of argument, let’s say that there is a God. Its beliefs don’t cause any given claim to be one that I know to be true or false. For this being could be mistaken. If you want to assert that there exists a being who is not capable of being mistaken, then you are assuming that there are claims that are true or false independently of this beings’s beliefs. For just suggesting that someone or something is not capable of being mistaken suggests that the being understands everything that is true or false. And that suggests that there claims that are true or false independently of this being’s beliefs. And presumably some humans would be capable of figuring out some of these claims. So it is okay to take it on faith that slavery is definitely bad and wrong but if we want to have faith in anything else we need to be constrained by pure logic? Worse, if we do not agree to this inconsistency it s because we aren t as well-read! The trouble is, of course, that science by definition deals with the material world; it has nothing to say about claims regarding immaterial things. You implicitly accept this you do not expect yourself or anyone else to make a scientific and rational case that slavery is wrong. The standards for testing an immaterial claim like Slavery is bad are the same ones for testing an immaterial claim like God exists. So let s look at your tests for having absolute faith in a moral maxim like Slavery is wrong. When I asked what your basis was for making these kinds of claims you said Experience is important, and so is reason and Partly (though not entirely) it is my social conditioning. Genetics are important, too. So your standards for making claims about morality engender the expressions of Reason, Experience, Social Conditioning, and Genetics.But if I ask you to employ those attributes in making and winning an absolute case for Slavery is wrong you would fail. So would I or anyone else. There is no rational case to be made in the end about these questions. Either you believe it and grasp it as a reality or you do not. Theism is the same way. As with abolitionists and slavery proponents, we can only make propositional claims about God from our experience and reason. There is no way for an Amish farmer to convince an atheist teacher that God exists, or the teacher the farmer that God does not. Their convictions are ultimate, there is nothing above them.This is a Cartesian problem. How do we know we re not the dream of a turtle? How do we know we aren t in The Matrix? How do we know the entire cosmos is not an ant farm on the dresser of an alien s bedroom? These questions cannot be answered there is no way to know these things are not the case. We can only choose to have faith in reality and live as if it were really real. This same problem applies to claims about God. What I mean when I say, There probably is no dreaming turtle is really, I do not believe in a dreaming turtle. That s all I can say. But I digress. Experience (including genetics and social influences) and Reason are fine standards and a sufficient basis for being a moral. I concede my previous argument that being atheist makes it almost impossible to be an affective leader. After thinking on it a while and getting clarity on my own thoughts I realize that I do not really believe this any more than I believe theism makes for a good leader (George W Bush comes to mind).What I really believe is that it is highly unlikely Americans will identify with such a person even if their faith remains unknown. I m all for equality of opportunity and I believe candidates of all stripes should be given a fair hearing, but I believe knowing someone is an atheist or agnostic is almost irrelevant in most of the US the atheist or agnostic has to resonate with people on a personal level. The attitudes involved with pure rationality and abstraction do not go unnoticed and do not really resonate with people in my experience. Just one experience among others, but it s mine.



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Michael K.

posted January 31, 2007 at 5:22 pm


Daniel, I’d be willing to talk to you on the phone. Here is my email address: Cardinal1972@hotmail.com Feel free to send me an email. I can give you my number, and you can call me collect. I might respond to some of what you said, but it’s not worth my time. Not a single one of these statements is rational, every one of them is an article of faith. What do you mean by that? And why do you say that? You speak and act with the conviction of faith. What do you mean by “faith?”



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Michael K.

posted January 31, 2007 at 5:24 pm


So it is okay to take it on faith that slavery is definitely bad and wrong but if we want to have faith in anything else we need to be constrained by pure logic? Worse, if we do not agree to this inconsistency it s because we aren t as well-read! What are you talking about?



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Michael K.

posted January 31, 2007 at 5:26 pm


But if I ask you to employ those attributes in making and winning an absolute case for Slavery is wrong you would fail. It is bad to hurt people and not let them make important choices, because they are rational agents capable of making choices.



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Michael K.

posted January 31, 2007 at 5:27 pm


When I asked what your basis was for making these kinds of claims you said Experience is important, and so is reason and Partly (though not entirely) it is my social conditioning. Genetics are important, too. So your standards for making claims about morality engender the expressions of Reason, Experience, Social Conditioning, and Genetics. Genetic and social conditioning contributing to my being able to do it, but they are not important in terms of what I’m justified in inferring.



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Michael K.

posted January 31, 2007 at 5:28 pm


There is no rational case to be made in the end about these questions. What questions?



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Michael K.

posted January 31, 2007 at 5:29 pm


This is a Cartesian problem. How do we know we re not the dream of a turtle? How do we know we aren t in The Matrix? How do we know the entire cosmos is not an ant farm on the dresser of an alien s bedroom? These questions cannot be answered there is no way to know these things are not the case. We can only choose to have faith in reality and live as if it were really real. This same problem applies to claims about God. What I mean when I say, There probably is no dreaming turtle is really, I do not believe in a dreaming turtle. That s all I can say. I know that I exist. And if you are uncomfortable with the word “know,” I’m overwhelmingly warranted in inferring that I exist.



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Michael K.

posted January 31, 2007 at 5:34 pm


What I really believe is that it is highly unlikely Americans will identify with such a person even if their faith remains unknown. Some US citizens won’t vote for a candidate if they don’t know whether the person is religious. But not all. The majority? It depends on the jurisdiction and the office. Where I live, it wouldn’t matter to the majority of voters. And school-board is different than President. But my point is that voters should not be less inclined to vote for a candidate because she does not say what her religious beliefs are, or if she says that she is an atheist or agnostic.



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Daniel

posted January 31, 2007 at 5:43 pm


Michael K, You’ve asked what I mean by certain terms, but it appears you are on the cusp of deciding again that this discussion is awaste of your time. That makes it risky for me to spend my time on it as well. I will hold onto your email address. I prefer that format, maybe sometime I will try again to connect with you.



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Daniel

posted January 31, 2007 at 6:16 pm


Michael K, I did see a way to keep the conversation going with little time invested. It is bad to hurt people and not let them make important choices, because they are rational agents capable of making choices. Why is the ability to make choices special? Why isn’t it just regarded as another material attribute like having a prehensile tail or gills? Is it rational to say we should be able to choose just because we can? Can we enshrine a new rule in algebra that X should equal 2y+7 because X can equal 2y+7? Isn’t making slave owners release slaves they legally bought hurting them and infringing their abilty to make important choices? But my point is that voters should not be less inclined to vote for a candidate because she does not say what her religious beliefs are, or if she says that she is an atheist or agnostic. I agree but I’m interested in why you think the opposite is not true. Between “People should discriminate based on the faith of the politician” and “People should not discriminate based on the faith of the politician” what leads you to hold the former as false and the latter as true? Is it a rational decision for you? Or is it just intuitive and obvious to human beings?



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Michael K.

posted January 31, 2007 at 6:33 pm


Daniel, fee free to email me any time. My experience is that phone conversations tend to take much less time, and contribute to at least as much understanding. Why is the ability to make choices special? I m not sure I d use the word special. But if I know that an action I can take will affect the number of number of important choices that some individual(s) can make, that should be relevant it terms of whether I take that action. For example, if I know that my doing X will result in 20 people being killed, and I know that my not doing X will not result in any person being killed, that should be highly important in terms of whether I take the action.



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Michael K.

posted January 31, 2007 at 6:38 pm


Isn’t making slave owners release slaves they legally bought hurting them and infringing their abilty to make important choices? That’s a good question. And sometimes one should act in a way that will reduce the number of important choices that some individuals can make. For instance, if I’m an a runaway trolley and I can’t stop, and I know if I let the trolley stay on the track that it is on, the trolley will hit a person and probably kill him. But if I hit a lever to cause the trolley to switch tracks, then it will hit 20 people and kill them. At least prima facie, I should let the trolley stay on the track that it is on.



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Michael K.

posted January 31, 2007 at 6:46 pm


i>I agree but I’m interested in why you think the opposite is not true. Between “People should discriminate based on the faith of the politician” and “People should not discriminate based on the faith of the politician” what leads you to hold the former as false and the latter as true? Because not being religious does not make it so that one is less able to be a good elected representative. Consider Michelle Bachelet. Her presidency of Chile is young. But from what I hear, she is doing a good job. In contrast, if a candidate has embezzled a large sum of money just days prior to an election, that is the kind of thing suggests that a person would have trouble being a good elected representative.



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Daniel

posted January 31, 2007 at 8:40 pm


Michael, Thanks for the phone invitation. I find email far more beneficial, I might drop you one sometime. What I’m getting at here is that there is a tension between your desire to be and have everyone else be completely rational – for example, voting only on the basis of what variables make for a more successful outcome – and the values that underly your convictions, which are completely irrational in nature. If questioned Socratically ad nauseam you will find this to be the case across the board. For example, We could ask “Why is choice good?” Eventually we would get back to the idea that people inherently deserve some autonomy (a Right to Liberty). A world of purely rational people viewing themselves as just a collection of inorganic molecules driven by an illusion of personhood is a world that most people would find every bit as easy to reject as the dreaming turtle. And I think if we can admit that our values are completely irrational and baseless but not relative and purely subjective in nature than it is awfully tough to continue valuing rationalism above all else. I don’t view my relationship with my wife as an economic arrangement for reproductive success, I don’t think of my desire for her in terms of pheromones and hormones. These things may describe the physical reality but the experience that love is something more is far more direct and present in my life.



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Michael K.

posted January 31, 2007 at 9:23 pm


What I’m getting at here is that there is a tension between your desire to be and have everyone else be completely rational – for example, voting only on the basis of what variables make for a more successful outcome – and the values that underly your convictions, which are completely irrational in nature. What do you mean by the values that underly your covictions are completely irrational in nature? If you are not clearer, this is going to take too long. It s already taken too long. And why do you say the values that underly your convictions are completely irrational in nature?Is your point that I m not warranted in inferring that some decisions are better than others? If that is your point, why do you say that? You are not giving any reasons. You are merely repeating your conclusion. Of course, some decisions are better than others. If you know that doing X will result in 200 people getting killed and not doing X will not result in any people getting killed, then you shouldn t do X. Please write one clear sentence and/or ask one clear question. Your doing so will help us make progress. If questioned Socratically ad nauseam you will find this to be the case across the board. For example, We could ask “Why is choice good?” Eventually we would get back to the idea that people inherently deserve some autonomy (a Right to Liberty). I don t see what your point is. A world of purely rational people viewing themselves as just a collection of inorganic molecules driven by an illusion of personhood is a world that most people would find every bit as easy to reject as the dreaming turtle. What is your point? I don t see your point. And I think if we can admit that our values are completely irrational and baseless but not relative and purely subjective in nature than it is awfully tough to continue valuing rationalism above all else. What do you mean by values? And why do you say our values are completely irrational and baseless but not relative and purely subjective in nature than it is awfully tough to continue valuing rationalism above all else? I don’t view my relationship with my wife as an economic arrangement for reproductive success, I don’t think of my desire for her in terms of pheromones and hormones. Good. These things may describe the physical reality but the experience that love is something more is far more direct and present in my life. I m not sure what you mean by that. But it sounds fine to me.



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Daniel

posted January 31, 2007 at 10:02 pm


Michael, Why is having the ability to make choices preferable to lacking the ability to make choices?



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Michael K.

posted February 1, 2007 at 1:10 am


Why is having the ability to make choices preferable to lacking the ability to make choices? Compare Teri Schiavo or a mosquito with Michael Jordan or Brad Pitt. Why is this an issue to you? I don t see your point in this. Is there some proposition that you think you and I disagree on? If so, what proposition? Lay it out for me. I don t know what your concern is.



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Daniel

posted February 1, 2007 at 3:30 pm


Michael K, I don’t think these are reasonable disconnections. We’re having such basic discourse problems. I’ve never run across anyone else who willingly gives up inuition to the extent that it cripples their basic ability to converse. I literally do not know how to say anything so that we can connect. For example, I take it for granted that “self-evident” and “faith” have known meanings that can be found in a dictionary or at least in common usage. What I mean by those is the same thing Webster means. This IS ITSELF my central point – without accepting the value of intuition and irrationality it doesn’t matter what a political candidate or a citizen thinks about the existence or non-existence of the super-natural, they will still remain marginalized in public life: By expecting everything to be material and scientific you have erected your own wall of separation between non-Church and state.



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Michael K.

posted February 1, 2007 at 4:34 pm


I’ve never run across anyone else who willingly gives up inuition to the extent that it cripples their basic ability to converse. I don’t do what I think you mean by “gives up inuition to the extent that it cripples their basic ability to converse.” And if I do, that is irrelevant to whether I’m warranted in inferring that political candidates or leaders should not talk about their religion. I literally do not know how to say anything so that we can connect. For example, I take it for granted that “self-evident” and “faith” have known meanings that can be found in a dictionary or at least in common usage. I m not sure how you have been using those terms. And, presumably, it would be easy for you to say. This IS ITSELF my central point – without accepting the value of intuition What do you mean by “intuition?” Given how a lot of people use the word “intuition,” a person s “intuitions” should be variables that the person considers when making decisions. But sometimes they should not be. Sometimes people have problematic intuitions. For instance, Hitler seemed to have the intuition to kill a lot of Jews. What do you mean by “irrationality?” Sometimes it is good not to just reason, and good not to think. Dancing, playing soccer, watching movies, having sex — these things can be very good. For one thing, pleasure is an end in itself. without accepting the value of intuition and irrationality it doesn’t matter what a political candidate or a citizen thinks about the existence or non-existence of the super-natural, they will still remain marginalized in public life: First, in many, if not most, places in the world a candidate s being an atheist, agnostic or unwilling to talk about his religious beliefs would not make it more difficult for the person to get elected. However, in some parts of the US, if the electorate knows that a candidate is an atheist or agnostic, it might hurt the candidate s chances of getting elected. And my point is that this is a bad thing. We should try to change this. That is why I got involved in this thread in the first place. Also, the US will change a lot in, say, 200 years. Or what about 20 million years? If we don’t blow ourselves up, and some humans alive today have descendants who are alive in 20 million years, I suspect that the majority will believe that there is no God. By expecting everything to be material and scientific you have erected your own wall of separation between non-Church and state. I want voters not to hold it against a candidate if the candidate is an atheist, an agnostic or unwilling to discuss his or her religious beliefs.



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Daniel

posted February 1, 2007 at 5:36 pm


I feel a bit like Gulliver on Laputa…. Basically, my message is that atheist candidates and public figures are not on the outskirts of American civilization because they profess no faith or refuse to profess one way or the other – it is because the response to life that leads them to be atheist is not shared by the general public and it is each of our respective responses to life (Weltanshauung, worldview, paradigm, philosophy, model, what have you) that determines our perspective on the universe and humanity. No matter how accommodating society is to those who refuse to answer questions about their faith or who answer that they possess no faith we still have this major gap of worldviews that make that distance a daunting obstacle. It might be crossed occasionally, especially in geoographically postmodern regions like San Francisco, but I don’t see that it can be crossed on a regular basis.



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Michael K.

posted February 1, 2007 at 6:09 pm


Basically, my message is that atheist candidates and public figures are not on the outskirts of American civilization because they profess no faith or refuse to profess one way or the other – it is because the response to life that leads them to be atheist is not shared by the general public and it is each of our respective responses to life that determines our perspective on the universe and humanity. My point is that voters should not be less apt to vote for a candidate because the candidate is an atheist, an agnostic or unwilling to discuss her religion or lack thereof. No matter how accommodating society is to those who refuse to answer questions about their faith or who answer that they possess no faith we still have this major gap of worldviews that make that distance a daunting obstacle. Today, in some parts of the US, many voters may be less inclined to vote for a candidate if the voters know that the candidate is an atheist, an agnostic or unwilling to discuss his or her religion or lack thereof. But my point is that that voters should not be less apt to vote for a candidate because the candidate is an atheist, an agnostic or unwilling to discuss her religion or lack thereof. So, in my own little way, I m trying to help change things. Meanwhile, today in the US, at least the vast majority of political candidates and leaders, and perhaps even all political candidates and leaders, should not discuss their religious beliefs or lack thereof.



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Michael K.

posted February 1, 2007 at 6:17 pm


I wrote: “Sometimes it is good not to just reason, and good not to think. Dancing, playing soccer, watching movies, having sex — these things can be very good. For one thing, pleasure is an end in itself.” I should say that dancing, playing soccer, watching movies, and having sex all include reasoning.



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Daniel

posted February 1, 2007 at 6:33 pm


Michael, But insomuch as atheism engenders a certain worldview, a worldview that differs from that of the atheist’s, and insomuch as that worldview produces a different perspectve on values and policies it is an important indicator to help predict future performance. Voters who diverge largely from the worldvie of atheism, expressed either in the candidates secular or faith-related remakrs or lack thereof, should absolutely vote based on these differences. The conviction that faith is irrelevant to ethics – which is a necessary presupposition of your claim that it should not matter – is true in your worldview but not for most people. In your system of morality people should not consider it. In most systems I am aware of people would be “warranted” in considering it as a factor in their decision.



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Daniel

posted February 1, 2007 at 6:34 pm


Sorry, that’s “a worldview that differs from the theist’s” NOT “from the atheist’s.”



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Michael K.

posted February 1, 2007 at 6:45 pm


But insomuch as atheism engenders a certain worldview, a worldview that differs from that of the atheist’s, and insomuch as that worldview produces a different perspectve on values and policies it is an important indicator to help predict future performance. Voters who diverge largely from the worldvie of atheism, expressed either in the candidates secular or faith-related remakrs or lack thereof, should absolutely vote based on these differences. People should not be less apt to vote for a candidate because the candidate is an atheist, an agnostic or unwilling to discuss their religion. I agree that many would be less apt to vote for such a candidate. But they shouldn t be. For being an atheist, an agnostic or unwilling to discuss one s religion or lack thereof is not an indication that one is less able to be a good elected representative.



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Daniel

posted February 1, 2007 at 8:57 pm


Michael, You said: For being an atheist, an agnostic or unwilling to discuss one s religion or lack thereof is not an indication that one is less able to be a good elected representative. This is subjective.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 2, 2007 at 5:34 am


Kevin, http://www.cbn.com/ includes a moderated discussion forum (left margin, scroll down about one screen). Thanks for the information.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 2, 2007 at 5:38 am


I should have mentioned that CBN is the organization of Pat Robertson.



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