God's Politics

God's Politics


Jim Wallis: Let’s Clear the Air

posted by gp_intern

Kos, you have responded to my post on the Left and religion from yesterday by saying, “Huh?”

I have no idea what Wallis is talking about. Isn’t his point exactly what I wrote? Maybe I’m missing something, but it’s as if Wallis didn’t bother reading my post and merely heard about it second-hand.

Atrios likewise expressed frustration:

As I always want to scream when Wallis writes, WHO ARE THESE DEMOCRATS and how did they … “manage to appear hostile to faith and to people in faith communities.”

It seems like we’re talking past each other, so let me try to clear up the confusion. Kos, of course I read your post. I liked it and that’s why I responded. Yes, I think we agree on 99% of this issue and I’m glad we’re mostly on the same page here, which is why I said:

I read your piece, Religion, values, and politics, and liked a lot of what you said. But I have a few responses to it. You and I have discussed this before, and you are clearly not attacking religion per se, as too many secular progressives have done for a long time.

I was trying to make a distinction between those, like you, who are doing a better job regarding religion, and those who are not. Perhaps I should have been more clear, but I was simply asserting that not everyone in the secular Left agrees with you, and that the problem is the more strident fundamentalist elements on both sides of the secular-religious divide – those in our respective camps with whom we have influence. And we each have a responsibility within those camps – which is I lump myself in with the religious folks who can appear exclusive while proposing my deal:

How about if progressive religious folks, like me, make real sure that we never say, or even suggest, that values have to come from faith – and progressive secular folks, like you, never suggest that progressive values can’t come from faith (and perhaps concede that, in fact, they often do).

It’s unfortunate that my post has been interpreted by some as personal criticism of you and by extension the entire Left blogosphere. That was not my intention. I’ve been asked to name names of the worst secular fundamentalist offenders that I’m complaining about, but I have done my best to take the high road – which is why I addressed my post to you, someone I consider to be an ally, especially for creating faith-friendly spaces like Street Prophets.

However, we both know that there are powerful voices on the Left that have no tolerance for faith. As I said, I won’t name names, but here are just a very few specifics: I’ve been attacked publicly by leaders of major progressive organizations who’ve said that the Left has no need for religion. They’ve said that religion, “whether conservative or progressive” should have no place in politics. “It’s still religion,” they say. I remember one particularly lovely comment from after I’d done a talk at a progressive political gathering (with me still in the room), saying that the kind of religion I subscribe to “puts signs out in front of churches that say ‘Jews and gays need not apply – just white Aryan men!'” That kind of diatribe says much more about that person’s own experience and view of religion than it does about my track record over three decades.

Friends on the boards of major progressive publications tell me they have fought this kind of intolerance of religion for years. A few brave writers in those magazines, who aren’t even religious themselves, have labeled this “shooting ourselves in the foot,” which is where I got the title for my response to your piece. Friends who’ve tried to help the Democratic candidates understand religion have been marginalized and disregarded – until after embarrassing losses. I’ve had Democratic members of Congress who are people of faith tell me for years that they felt marginalized within their party as people of faith; that they were not really allowed to speak as who they were as people of faith. And for those who don’t think the Democrats have appeared hostile to religion, read the polls. That can’t just all be blamed on Fox News.

Gratefully, much of that is now changing, and dramatically. The media is now featuring more diverse religious voices, including progressive ones. “Progressive evangelical” used to be thought a misnomer, but now it’s becoming a movement, as a new generation of evangelical pastors and students leave the Religious Right. And, very significantly, the Democrats are doing much better at connecting issues with values and faith with politics.

In the House, for example, Catholic Democrats have defended their progressive agenda on matters like poverty by directly citing Catholic social teaching, etc. But even here, some of the progressive religious activists who have been working hard on helping the Democrats in changing their attitudes toward religion, and doing so successfully, have also now come under attack from secular progressives who clearly don’t want Democrats to be more “faith friendly.” And when Barack Obama gave one of the best speeches this capital has ever seen on how faith can enter the public square in ways that are entirely consistent with and respectful of our democracy, pluralism and diversity, he was pretty harshly attacked by the Left blogosphere. I think that is unfortunate, and frankly, it makes religious progressives mad.

My post in response to yours was an effort at peacemaking, mutual respect, and better collaboration. That is has been interpreted otherwise makes me sad.

Let me conclude with a story. I was asked to address the annual meeting of the Democratic state party chairs, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, just a week or so after the election. Howard Dean welcomed me warmly and said we and other religious progressives had really helped the party by addressing the religion and “moral values” issues, that they had listened to us. I spoke to the group about how the outcome of the election was more an “opportunity” than a victory, because the things the American people voted for and against had yet to change. I strongly urged a clear populist and progressive agenda, and spoke against a soul-less centrism that many others seemed to advocate. The response in the discussion period and in personal conversations afterwards was almost like a “camp meeting” with Democratic officials eager to say “I’m a Presbyterian,” “I’m a Baptist,” “I’m a Catholic,” “I’m a Jew,” “I’m a Unitarian.” Everybody was “testifying,” as we say. The level of comfort about being “religious” for these Democrats was very new according to almost everyone there.

But here is the relevant thing for our dialogue: Several people spoke in the general session and came up to me later to say that they were “secular” and not religious at all. Each one said, “The way you talked about this subject didn’t make me feel left out, or just kicked to the curb. You called for a moral discourse on politics, not just a reli
gious one, and said we were all needed for that.”

Kos, I hear that virtually every time I’m out speaking, where “secular” progressives always show up. Consistently, they thank me afterwards for making them feel included too. That is very important to me: Sojourners has been building bridges between religious and secular progressives long before there was a blogosphere, and I have never wanted to “insult our secular progressive allies” as somebody accused me of on your site. My intention in responding to you was the exact opposite – to continue to dialogue and help the process of healing between progressive religious and seculars along. If there were ways my wording failed to do that, I am genuinely sorry. And I certainly wasn’t coming after you, as some of your readers thought who rose up in your defense. I suppose it all just shows how important this dialogue is.

As recent campaigns show, these realities are changing significantly, but only due to the efforts of folks fighting an uphill battle against entrenched attitudes and popular perceptions. I’m glad for the efforts of folks like you and the progressive religious blogs I have on my blog roll, but I think we can all acknowledge that there’s still plenty of work to be done.



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A Hermit

posted February 21, 2007 at 10:07 pm


You may think you are taking the “high road” by not telling us who you are talking about, but in reality you’re just unintentionally smearing a whole lot of well-meaning secularists by making vague, unsupported accusation about some unidentifiable “secular fundamentalists.” It’s hard to understand what your point is if you aren’t more specific. I also don’t understand how a link to this post supports your assertion that secular progressives are “attacking religion.”



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Wolverine

posted February 21, 2007 at 10:14 pm


Jim Wallis wrote: However, we both know that there are powerful voices on the Left that have no tolerance for faith. As I said, I won’t name names, but here are just a very few specifics: I’ve been attacked publicly by leaders of major progressive organizations who’ve said that the Left has no need for religion. They’ve said that religion, “whether conservative or progressive” should have no place in politics. “It’s still religion,” they say. I remember one particularly lovely comment from after I’d done a talk at a progressive political gathering (with me still in the room), saying that the kind of religion I subscribe to “puts signs out in front of churches that say ‘Jews and gays need not apply just white Aryan men!'” That kind of diatribe says much more about that person’s own experience and view of religion than it does about my track record over three decades. Given the level of vitriol described here, I really don’t think that the refusal to “name names” on Jim’s part is taking the high road any more. If what he says is true Jim is just protecting the guilty. If he’s lying he’s making it harder for the rest of us to check things out. If he’s exaggerating he’s making it less likely that those responsible will explain their side of the story. In the interests of disclosure (since we have a lot of folks around who don’t normally post here), I am a conservative and a Christian. I also believe that the secular left should have a fair chance to defend itself, and I’m not sure that Jim is giving them that here. Wolverine



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Nell

posted February 21, 2007 at 10:52 pm


I’m sorry. This is a dishonest argument until Jim W. is willing to name names. It’s akin to characterizing what “Democrats think” because of something a pseudonymous commenter said on a well-read blog. Jim’s argument rests on the idea that there are major Democratic political figures and/or activists who are publicly hostile to religion. Unless and until he provides examples, this is just a tiresome ‘straw man’ argument.



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djtyg

posted February 21, 2007 at 11:01 pm


There are no leaders of the progressive movement that are bashing religion, which is probably why he’s not naming names. He has none. The people who do bash religion are a minority member of the grassroots, who haven’t been able to differentiate between Christian and conservative, thanks to the right. Having said that, Wallis still owes Kos an apology. The reason why everyone thought that post was attributed to Kos is because it WAS attributed to Kos. It was even in the title! Jim, I’ve been defending you at Kos, but at least be man enough to apologize for what you said.



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LauraF

posted February 22, 2007 at 12:13 am


I think it’s probably true that most high-profile politicians, liberal or conservative, have more sense than to openly attack religion — although slip-ups such as Howard Dean naming Job as his “favorite New Testament book” do a good job of making the general public think that any professed interest in religion is phony. (I’m not saying his faith IS phony, I don’t think it is, but that’s the message that is sent). However, it’s not just high level political figures who communicate to the public what “liberals” think about faith, it’s also average citizens like you and I, who people meet and talk to in their daily lives. And among “average” secular liberals who aren’t running for office, I think there IS quite a bit of hostility to religion. Not among all secular liberals, of course, but many. I have coworkers — intelligent people who I respect and whose politics I mostly agree with — who get upset when politicians (including Democrats who are in no danger of being mistaken for members of the “Religious Right”) make ANY references to God, faith, religion, etc. I hear comments along the lines of: “Faith? What does he mean by faith? Usually when politicans use that word, it has a little something to do with eroding the separation of church and state.” When I became more “religious” (Christian) and started attending church, one of my coworkers suggested that he figured I may also have become a Republican — this in spite of the fact that we’ve talked about politics many times, he knows what my views are, and in also spite of the fact that he knows I attend a pretty liberal church. On occasion, he has made unintentionally hurtful remarks about my church, my faith, unkind speculation about the integrity of my pastors (whom he has never met), etc. I know he didn’t mean to be hurtful, but I just don’t think he quite “gets” how personal and engrained a person’s faith can be to them. It gets so it’s easier just not to talk about religion in “mixed company”, but maybe that’s part of the problem. If you read the “comments” sections of many liberal blogs, you can come across many examples of unbridled hostility toward religion. I realize “comments” sections tend to have a pretty abrasive tone toward most subjects, so that has to be taken into account, but it still sends a message. I also think that those us who ARE both progressive and religious haven’t done a good job of articulating that to the public. Many still have it in their head that “Christian=Republican”. In this area, people like Jim Wallis have helped greatly, as has Sen. Obama, and I appreciate it.



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kevin s.

posted February 22, 2007 at 12:51 am


This is essentially the same post with a different title.



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Kris Weinschenker

posted February 22, 2007 at 12:59 am


Street Prophets and Pastordan are nothing more than a politcial mouthpiece for the Democratic party. They use the same tactics as the Religious Right to define their own ‘brand’ of “Christianity”. A brand that is just as far off the mark as Falwell and company (if not more so).



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Kris Weinschenker

posted February 22, 2007 at 1:01 am


BTW, how are Jeff Carr’s talks with Ahmadinejad going? Funny how there is no mainstream press coverage about that.



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Jesse Lava

posted February 22, 2007 at 1:36 am


Kris, have you actually read Pastor Dan’s blog? What on earth gives you the idea he’s a mouthpiece for the Democratic Party, or so doctrinaire on Christianity that he accepts no alternative views? Please back up your contention.



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MikeJ

posted February 22, 2007 at 2:17 am


You claim that there are people that listened to you speak, and then came away with the impression that your brand of religion in politics means “just white Aryan men.” If these people actually exist (and how would we know?) doesn’t it say something about the way you communicate your message if that’s what they took away? If that’s the message they received, shouldn’t they be saying nasty things about you? Perhaps there’s a little plank/splinter action goin on here.



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voxmia

posted February 22, 2007 at 2:31 am


I must agree with some of the previous comments, your tact is not in fact “taking the high road.” If anything, what’s underscored is that you cannot provide any evidence to support your claim that prominent progressives/liberals in the “secular left” are hostile to religious folks. That you cannot see that you’re only feeding into the right-wing narrative against “Liberals” as a whole shows a lack of political savvy, no matter your many contributions to the liberal-religious discussion. As someone that I’m sure agrees with you on 99% of the issues, please stop feeding the right-wing narrative against us all — that is, against ALL Liberals, whether religious or secular.



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Psyche

posted February 22, 2007 at 3:27 am


Let me try to make this very simple Rev. Wallis. When you make broad claims about liberal or secular Democrats being anti-religious or hostile to religion, you are purely and simply supporting the unsubstantiated smears of the religious right. This has been a major weapon in their attempts to demonize progressives (and others who don’t believe as they do). If you don’t want to support their agenda, you can simply stop making these claims and save a lot of ink trying to justify why you’re doing it. Your continuing to do this contributes to divisiveness within the progressive community – something the religious right would be delighted to see. Ultimately, it may even marginalize you as other religious and secular progressives continue to work peacefully together toward common goals.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 22, 2007 at 3:53 am


Jim, Thanks to you for writing “God’s Politics” and conducting the book tour. You and Sojourners did that in response to the use of religion by Dobsen, Falwell, and Robertson to represent “moral values” as equating to making abortion and gay unions illegal. And candidates and elected officials were responsive to that unbalanced presentation of “moral values”. Sojourners created a big tent, and it included all of us who supported a broader range of values. Not just Christians, but everyone who supported more than what these three represented, And you conducted a book tour and Sojourners established MeetUps to discuss the book. That gave us a sense of connectedness… there were lots of us who didn’t want values to be represented so narrowly. The problem being manifested now is that there was not a follow up to that… once we completed our discussions of the book, participants and individuals who had not participated in MeetUps could not then connect with other supporters of the broader set of values… in our states and districts… Dobsen, Falwell, and Robertson make that possible, for those who align with their view of “moral values”… Now is the time to create a way for those of us who support that broader range of values to “find one another” in our states. From there we can fulfill the commission to “change the wind”. “…we are the ones we’ve been searching for…”, but, we can’t find one another… Sojourners can help us do that… I say, forget the attacks that appear on this blog and refocus on the commission… Thanks for all that you do, all of you at Sojourners.



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Geopolitics

posted February 22, 2007 at 4:51 am


One comment on PastorDan’s site wrote this about Jim: “…He talks a good game, when it comes to faith and light and “progressive values”, but he strikes me as being a bit dodgey. I generally assume he means well, but he doesn’t really represent me as a progressive religious person; after all, I’m not Christian or Jewish, so I must not really exist, or something. He appears to be head-over-heels in love with the sound of his own voice (through whatever media comes to hand). This does not, in itself, make him a bad person – I fully realize this. But there’s something about him that just strikes me as carrying a faint whiff of the publicity hound. He also has seemed increasingly impressed with his own importance, over the last few years.He sets off certain alarm bells in my head. Not entirely rational, I guess; but I’ve learned to trust these particular alarm bells, even when I’m not entirely certain what it is they are signaling to me.” Jim and SJ are entering a phase where they are increasingly looking for and to PR campaigns and TV sound bites in an effort to promote an “agenda”. This is where the SJ movement diverts from its grassroots efforts, differs from the Civil Rights movement. Civil Rights involved suffering for the weak and powerless; SJ and Jim now hobnob with the rich, famous, and powerful–thinking that this will bring change. But it won’t: it will only bring more competition for fame, power, and riches. (I can almost guarantee that Rick Nowlin will attempt to rescue Jim from this criticism. Just watch.)



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amberglow

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:21 am


Explicit Christian references and discourse in politics and by elected people and candidates does exclude those of us of different faiths.When you bring your specific religion’s language and priorities into campaigns, political movements and parties, and politics and policy in general, it ceases to be religion and becomes just a different flavor of politics, added to all the rest. It should not and will not be exempt from criticism, if it excludes, or discriminates or is used to attack those of the same general beliefs, or to create oppositions, and segregation into “secular” and “religious”. Both religious and nonreligious people are well aware of what religion all candidates are because they all make it clear–they always have–and they have to. Sometimes it hurts them because they’re not Christian (or not considered Christian–see Romney). Sometimes they are attacked–see Ellison. Sometimes they end up bending over backwards to reassure Christians that they’re not really a threat–see Kennedy. All those things are not helpful, and don’t help make good things happen for Americans, nor do they advance any sort of progressive anything. Having to always define things in relation to Christianity holds all of us back, and restricts the candidate pool. Again, look at the treatment Ellison’s received and tell me it’s not going to deter other Muslims from running. Imagine how Hindus feel. Imagine how all of us who aren’t Christian feel when we see baseless and evil attacks because a candidate isn’t Christian, or rumors and innuendo and slander (see the “Evolution is a Jewish Plot” thing down south) and is considered “less-than” and “other” because of it.



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amberglow

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:26 am


There’s actually a post on this blog about mistrust of Romney specifically because he’s a Mormon. How does that advance anything of value to Americans, besides your own group’s litmus tests and bigotry and mistrust?Just as that blogger is free to question Romney’s faith as it pertains to politics and how he’d govern, we question how your own faith pertains. These conversations usually never move us forward, but simply mire us in a checklist (determining fitness to govern based on our own religions) instead of their own stated positions and actions and accomplishments and beliefs and ideas.



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amberglow

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:30 am


The Ellison treatment and attacks strongly reinforced that more religion and more faith in politics is not any sort of positive answer to better politics and governing. Until it’s not an issue unless the candidate explicitly makes it one (which you advocate for all progressives), we get hung up on it to the detriment of real progress, and derail more important conversations that need to be had. Christians on the whole are exempt from the treatment Ellison received–people really need to examine why that is, and what it means.



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kevin s.

posted February 22, 2007 at 6:08 am


The “treatment Ellison received” largely stemmed from his involvement with anti-Semitic organizations, his attempt to consolidate that involvement into a convenient 18 month span, and his refusal to genuinely apologize for his anti-Semitic views. That has nothing to do with this discussion. I do find it ironic that the comments here split pretty evenly between “nobody ever said there was a problem with religion informing politics” and “the problem with religion informing politics is x,y,z…”



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amberglow

posted February 22, 2007 at 6:30 am


No, it didn’t. He was vilified in the media and by fellow elected officials, and that was never mentioned–read Rep. Goode’s refusal to apologize.…”I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped,” Goode said. “The Ten Commandments and ‘In God We Trust’ are on the wall in my office. …



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amberglow

posted February 22, 2007 at 6:41 am


What happens all the time with faith in politics is that it becomes something to attack and be attacked about–like all political things and personal characteristics. It’s not faith or religion anymore, but either a weapon or a shield, or part of a checklist or dog whistle for potential voters, signaling either “i’m one of you” or “i’m other” or simply shorthand for “i’m this, so that means i believe this and this and this”, etc.



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amberglow

posted February 22, 2007 at 6:47 am


Whether it’s an unintended consequence or not, more politicians bringing their faith into politics means perpetuation and reinforcement of Christianity as the norm, because this is a majority Christian population. That further excludes and marginalizes those of us who aren’t Christian. It’s inevitable that in the rough world of politics and elections that these things will be used against–and for–certain people at the expense of other issues and moving this country forward and helping people, etc. It makes another label instead of actually advancing values or policies based on any of those faiths. It segregates.



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amberglow

posted February 22, 2007 at 6:53 am


Look at Feingold–he’s probably the most effective progressive we have in the Senate. He does not make an issue of his faith, nor does he sprinkle references to it in his speeches or position papers or appearances on tv, etc. It may be the source of his views or it may not, but it’s not relevant to the job he tries to do, and the good he does. Being in a minority religion, using his faith would be foreign to many, and it may be misunderstood or used against him or simply be a distraction from what he’s actually doing and trying to accomplish–things which are deeply moral and “good” for all Americans.



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amberglow

posted February 22, 2007 at 7:02 am


1 more thing–and sorry i’m going on so much: Effective and society-changing public figures in our history who use and include faith and their religion, etc, have almost entirely been outside politics, and there’s a really good reason for that. Politics corrupts and cheapens and absorbs all it touches–due to our election system, legislative rules, and the media, i think. Accomplishments by politicians most often depend on either building consensus and coalitions among diverse people of very varying views and agendas, or ramming things thru without regard to others, or the law.



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share

posted February 22, 2007 at 7:26 am


Very disappointed by the pettiness of many remarks here. There is so much suffering and real danger in not discussing and taking action against the criminals who have taken over our government.I guess I would call myself a Christian leftist and what I think is most important is bring the truth about what bushco is doing to America and the world to Christians. Many rightly reject this shallow, violent culture, Carl Bernstein has made some excellent comments on this recently – don’t go outside a very, very narrow space to learn about what is going on and so need to be brought up to speed on the 911 Truth movement and neglectand misuse of our soldiers and the BFEE’s decades of corruption, stealing our treasury, propagandafinanced by taxpayers and on and on. The leaders and pastors have a lot to answer for in not informing their flock.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 22, 2007 at 3:47 pm


Jim, There ought to be a balance to the “moral values” that Dobsen, Falwell, and Robertson press on our elected officials… “…we are the ones we’ve been searching for…”, but, we can’t find one another… Sojourners can help us do that… I say, ignore the attacks that appear on this blog and refocus on the commission… “Change the wind”… Thanks for all that you do, all of you at Sojourners.



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anon

posted February 22, 2007 at 4:51 pm


One of the incidents Jim is describing took place at the Take Back America conference in 2005 — the speaker was the president of the National Organization for Women: http://www.ourfuture.org/document.cfm?documentID=1982



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wayne

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:30 pm


Here is what Gandy said. Perhaps there is more than just an apology from Jim that is required. I can’t help but hear the applause from the crowd. I can try to hear it as directed at all those “fundy” brothers of ours and I can try to understand where it comes from, but I think if I heard this kind of rhetoric often even my thick skin might seem too thin. The goodnews is we can go on from this point, forgiven and very careful of what we all say about each other. “There are too many so-called political leaders who call themselves moderate or even progressive, but who are really trying to be .Republican light.. (Applause.) Just from the sound of it, don.t you know that’s headed for a train wreck? And a lot of them . I’m sorry to say . are being encouraged by the Democratic party, which can.t seem to decide whether it wants to be Republican light. Somebody tell them please, we don’t need two Republican parties. (Cheers.) We don.t need two Republican parties and we don.t need another moral majority. With all due respect to Jim Wallis and his very good work to end poverty, I don’t want a progressive evangelical movement anymore than I want the conservative one that we have now. I want a legal recognition of and preservation of my human and civil rights without regard to someone else’s religious beliefs. (Cheers.) I don’t want a woman’s moral decisions to be determined by someone else’s religion, because while the Bible does have 3,000 passages about poor people, it says not one word about abortion. (Applause.) And where are we headed with this? Just one example . St. Louis, Missouri, Congressman Lacy Clay, longtime progressive just changed his vote on a bill that endangers the lives of young women and would jail a grandmother, an aunt, or a sister, who crossed the state line with her to help her with an abortion that she sought. He voted against the bill, but he voted for the bill. He changed his vote saying, quote “I’m going to follow my church leadership and vote in favor of this bill,” close quote. Lacy Clay he went on to say, quote, “We have to start being flexible on issues like abortion and gay rights.” Now, where might this idea have come from? Do you think it might have come from John Kerry, who said we need to recruit and elect more pro-life Democrats? Do you think it might have come from Howard Dean praising anti-abortion Democrats in Alabama? Do you think it might have come from Chuck Schumer recruiting an antiabortion Democrat in a blue state to run against a pro-choice woman with a better chance to win? If that.s what it means to have a big tent, if it means abandoning the core principles of our party, if it means throwing women’s rights overboard like so much ballast, if it means picking and choosing which of us have moral values and which of us don’t, then I say let’s keep the skunk out of the tent. (Applause.)”



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Frank

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:42 pm


Why is it so hard to imagine there are those liberals, left leaning secularists, plain and simple secularists, etc. that harbor a crass and belittling attitude as do many on the Right? There are always different opinions but an obtuse (sorry Tim Robbins) person deserves no excuse. I’m sure that crowd on the Right mostly enjoys hearing their favorite provocateur, and vice versa on the Left side of the media lineup. The point is that they can’t be just tuned out, in part due to the fact a lot of us secretly harbor some of those same attitudes. Hence, why we tune in or log on. So, someone has to take a stand against the noise machine that passes for important progressive discussion.



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Wolverine

posted February 22, 2007 at 6:07 pm


Mike Hayes wrote: “…we are the ones we’ve been searching for…” Sorry, but I can’t help but remember the first time I saw that (from God’s Politics, the book) the first thing that popped into my head was a line from an old Jimmy Buffet song: “We are the people our parents warned us about”. Carry on. Wolverine



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Marilyn

posted February 22, 2007 at 6:09 pm


In Canada, the New Democratic Party was created from the Social Gospel Movement in the West. As I understand it, Tommy Duglas, the first leaderr of the NDP learned the Social Gospel Movement from the US. What relationship does thhe Social Gospel Movement have to the history of the US Democrats. I understand that the Social Gospel Movement had a greater impact in Canada because we were less individualistic. However, the Free Trade Agreement destroyed this impact. I like to take this opportunity to thank Jim Wallis for bringing back the Social Gospel Movement.



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wayne

posted February 22, 2007 at 6:09 pm


Frank I think the intent of Jims post was to ask us all to stop shooting ourselves and to correctly identify the target. He evidently didn’t succeed at doing that very well. What Gandy said is understandable and much of it I could agree with, still the remarks group all people of faith regardless of their political monikers into one catagory, “skunks” is I believe the word. Perhaps Jim was doing all secular progressives, and even those of us faith based folk, a favor by not naming people and organizations. What good would it do but give people more incorrect targets to shoot at? We can and will differ on many things. What we agree on is more important. Save the ammo. “The tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; James 3:6″



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Mike Hayes

posted February 22, 2007 at 6:14 pm


Wayne, In a big tent, persons who are conservative generally but liberal on some issues (poverty and opposition to war come to mind) could have a place to speak out about those issues in coordination with others who want to push members of congress and members of state legislatures on those issues……and on other issues…abortion and gay civil unions come to mind…they might stick with Dobsen, Falwell, and Robertson… …but, there will be other versions of that big tent, also… I hear what you are saying, as well…



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Mike Hayes

posted February 22, 2007 at 6:15 pm


Wolverine, I also thing of the phrase “…I have become my parent…” Best wishes…



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Belae

posted February 22, 2007 at 7:45 pm


What a cop out.. you are pulling the same crap that that bush and his cronies like to do all the time.. “some of the democrats don’t take terrorist seriously.. “. Speak of which Clinton just pull the same crap. Owe up to your accusation or shut the fuck up.



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ErinPDX

posted February 22, 2007 at 7:49 pm


Why are you name-calling? Why do you use the term “secular Left?” cut it out and name names.



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Patrick ONeill

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:00 pm


>> saying that the kind of religion I subscribe to “puts signs out in front of churches that say ‘Jews and gays need not apply – just white Aryan men!'” That kind of diatribe says much more about that person’s own experience and view of religion than it does about my track record over three decades. — True it does say a lot about the experience of MANY of us. And that is quite a reasonable reaction, and criticising someone for saying so will not make peace or improve the reputiation of the churches. What would improve that reputation would be expending a little effort actually changing the situation, and I don’t see Sojourners doing that. It’s nice that they are against poverty but it isn’t really courageous or brave.Just decidining to “focus on other issues” does not make issues such as the churches persecution of gays go away.



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Harold

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:01 pm


Building bridges or building wedges?



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Clavis

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:05 pm


I have no religion. I think religion, or more specifically, a belief in the existence of supernatural entities that involve themselves directly in human affairs, is detrimental to modern society. America is essentially alone in the developed world in having so many religious fundamentalists. In most developed nations, you are considered politically unelectable if you express an evangelical belief in Jehovah. In America, you are considered unelectable if you admit to being an atheist. It’s no coincidence that the people in this country most enthralled by Christian dogma are also enthralled by the spin doctors and mindf*ckers of the Bush Administration. A lack of ability to think critically and objectively, and an adherence to authority, make for BAAAAAAAD citizens. If you have an ill-informed, senseless opinion about health care, or the economy, or foreign cars, I don’t have to “respect your opinion” and act all tentative and cautious. I can openly comment on your beliefs and hopefully this will lead to better information all around. In most areas of life, a person is considered sensible if they are properly open to new evidence. If a person said “I believe that America will be helped by invading Iran, and NOTHING YOU SAY WILL EVER CHANGE MY MIND,” we’d say that person was irrational and not helping things. Religion is the only area of human life where hypersensitivity, closed-mindedness and a resistance to new information are actually considered GOOD things. LauraF said: On occasion, he has made unintentionally hurtful remarks about my church, my faith, unkind speculation about the integrity of my pastors (whom he has never met), etc. I know he didn’t mean to be hurtful, but I just don’t think he quite “gets” how personal and engrained a person’s faith can be to them. I interpret this to mean “I am more sensitive and less open to criticism about my religion than anything else. And society allows me to put the onus on YOU to walk around on eggshells and not say anything that might offend my religious ‘sensibilities’. Even if you don’t MEAN to offend me, my belief in self-serving irrational notions as a social good trumps your belief in reason as a social good.” I’m sorry, but America is doomed if this is the attitude we were all to take. If we decide that, since religious people interpret ALL criticism as disrespectful criticism, we’d better just shut up about religion and let the believers do, say and teach their children whatever they want… America will end up another Afghanistan. Do you really think that the evangelists would take the same attitude towards non-believers? “Hey, maybe we’d better be respectful, too?” Of course not! They’re just going to continue pushing their superstitions and their emotional attachments as The Truth, and we progressives will be too busy being “respectfully silent” to stop the ball from rolling.



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anon

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:07 pm


Gandy also said: “And one place where Jim Wallis and I disagree vehemently is that he believes that the churches getting this faith-based money ought to be allowed to discriminate if it fits in with their religion, that it would be perfectly fine for churches using federal funds to hang up a sign that says, ‘No Jews Need Apply’ or ‘No Christians Need Apply’ or maybe, ‘Help Wanted: Aryan Nation Church Members Only.'” First off, I’m pretty sure Rev. Wallis doesn’t believe that. Secondly, if you read her complete remarks I think her dripping disrespect for religious institutions is pretty obvious.



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chadwig

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:09 pm


Regarding these mysterious secular proggresives on whom you predicate your whole post… put up or shut up. You claim to be taking the high road by not divulging specifics, but I’m guessing you just don’t have any do you?The poor oppressed and victimized Christian-majority pity-party on patrol strikes again.I love your progressivism, but I hate your bogus claims of victimization predicated on…??!!?!?!?!?… …what pray tell?



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The Raven

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:11 pm


I agree that Feingold presents the correct model on this issue. Is he religious? Who knows and who cares? His ideas are forceful and worth listening to. His solutions are practical and address the most pressing concerns of our day.It would not add one iota to any of the above were Feingold to come forth and say that his thinking is the “result of revelation” or his spiritual beliefs. On the other hand, his arguments would be weakened substantially were he to do so. Once religion is identified as the source of an idea, then those who do not ascribe to the tenets of that religion are left at the door, so to speak. As an atheist, I truly have no idea what the devout mean when they claim that their values are informed by their faith. What are these religious values and why are they different from any values that I may have? I cannot think of one, single, positive value a person might hold that could only come from a pulpit or a bible. Rather, the real difference here concerns the justification for holding those values. The religionist claims divine inspiration or revealed authority, the secularist need only claim reason. That’s why religion and politics are a bad mix. You can be religious and secular, after all.



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smijer

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:18 pm


I left the following comment on a friend’s blog in response to one of his posts about Wallis & friends. I’m inclined to share it here, for what it is worth (remember that when I say “around here”, I’m talking about my friend’s blog – not around the tubes more generally): I may be the closest thing around here to “anti-religious”. Not really that – at least not any more, but I am anti – read “against” – supernaturalist or magical thinking. Not against the people who indulge it, just against the thinking itself. IOW, I have no beef with the people who indulge it, I just think they and we would all be better off if they didn’t. I do have a beef with some of the people who *preach* it – but only if they employ dishonesty in the process. I also see some value in religion. It’s why I’m a UU. It’s why I am grateful for various religious institutions for certain functions they perform, better than any of their secular competition, IMHO.I don’t think it is wise for people to make religion take pride of place in any of their actions – even their religious actions – but also including their political ones. I think a large part of the reason the religious right has made such an ugly appearance in the U.S. is because it’s members *do* put religion first (or in their own language, put “God” first – which amounts to the same thing).You’ve been around me enough on the tubes that you have probably heard my reasoning before, and may already be bored by it. But let me recap it for others who might read: Morality requires responsibility. Responsibility requires acting according to conscience. Allowing religion, or “God”, or any other entity veto power over conscience – even in theory – places responsibility in other rather than in self. If the self is not responsible, then true morality is impossible – like the subjects of Stanley Milgram’s experiments – one just takes orders well, for better or worse, not even necessarily knowing the difference. Instead, religion – if we are to have it, and beliefs about God – if we are to have them, should be subject first to the test of conscience. Where there is conflict, religion or understanding about God must bend to the demands of conscience. If this is the case, then religious beliefs – Kingdom of God beliefs – will largely be a subset of conscience. But, at the end of the day, we must act according to our conscience, and our conscience must be free. Acting according to conscience includes voting (or abstaining) according to conscience. Then your votes may well be consistent with your religion, but they will not be based on it. And that will be the correct arrangement.



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LauraF

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:18 pm


Why is a politician’s religion relevant? I guess, theoretically, it may not be — someone of any faith (or no faith) can be a good leader and advocate good policies. But in reality, campaigns are about all kinds of things that aren’t “technically” related to the politician’s views and leadership ability — how good looking and charming the candidate is, how pretty and doting his wife is (interesting that for female candidates, the attractiveness of her husband generally seems less important), how cute the kids are, whether the candidate tried marijuana in college, etc. And candidates talk all the time about things that aren’t “technically” related: how much they love their families, what inspirations their parents were, their affinity for puppies, etc. No one bats an eyelash at that. It’s only when they talk about their faith (which may genuinely be a very central aspect of their life) that it suddenly becomes controversial. And I will agree with one point that has been made: while attacking a candidate’s faith (or openness about his/her faith) is in my view disrespectful, any policy positions that arise out of that faith are NOT immune from criticism. I don’t particularly care if a candidate’s views on abortion, war, the death pentaly, or any other issue stem from their faith, but they’d better be able to defend that view in the secular arena and make arguments for it that don’t rely on any theological belief or doctrine. I think the debate on gay marriage is the prime current example of religion being inappropriately translated into policy. Many conservatives are passionately opposed to gay marriage, but have trouble coming up with any non-God-related arguments to justify their opposition. They seem to know they have to try, so they come up with flimsy arguments having to do with procreation (ignoring the obvious fact that if the ability to procreate biologically with one’s spouse is a prerequisite for marriage, huge numbers of heterosexual couples would also be ineligible)! But when pressed very hard, they tend to fall back on “God made marriage between a man and a woman”. The speech from NOW posted above also mentioned abortion as an “inappropriate religion” issue. Frankly, I disagree. Whether pro-choicers want to admit it or not, there are plenty of compelling non-faith-based arguments against legal abortion. (And arguments that are also not anti-woman either, by the way!) And I say this as someone who probably comes down on the “reluctantly pro-choice” side (though I admit I tend to waver on the issue). It’s true that the loudest anti-abortion voices tend to be religious, and often tend to present it as a “faithful vs. secular” issue, which I think ultimately does a disservice to the cause. A few years ago, there was a controversy when a group of gay pro-lifers was prevented from participating in a pro-life march and carrying a sign identifying their group! What does that do besides tell people that if they’re not heterosexual fundamentalist Christians, the pro-life movement doesn’t want their energies?



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Clavis

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:25 pm


As an atheist, I truly have no idea what the devout mean when they claim that their values are informed by their faith. I suspect that the ‘informing’ takes two forms that work in concert with each other. One is that people have ethics that come from instinct and culture, and they “feel” those ethics to be correct, and anything they “feel” will be partially attributed to their faith, since their sense of introspection and cosmology is inextricably interpreted through their religious lens. The other is just that, for a lot of people, religious faith is an excuse to choose self-serving ideologies. During slavery, slaveholders were easily able to find justification in Scripture for their positions. Religion tells you that your beliefs are “APPROVED BY GOD”, so you can put your confidence in them, even if they aren’t informed by anything but navel-gazing. The religionist claims divine inspiration or revealed authority, the secularist need only claim reason. Bingo. Basing our laws on reason means that we can share those reasons; that we can all come to an above-the-table reconciliation. We can define our terms. We can agree, not to disagree, but to AGREE. As long as we bow and scrape to anyone who demands that their reasons are “beyond question” because they “come from their faith”, we’ll never rid ourselves of irrational thinking. You know, those Taliban people in Afghanistan who commit honor rape — they’re only doing what they feel is right according to their faith. So maybe we shouldn’t question them, either? Where do we draw the line? What’s something the Christian evangelists in this country could do that would force us to talk about religion like adults?



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Hecate, Runnymeade Conspirator

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:29 pm


Sweet Mother, you are a pompous ass.



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Morat

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:30 pm


Let me make a comment here — perhaps others have already made this, but it’s a simple fact: Not all Christians are evangelicals. Not all feel politics and Church should be interconnected. In fact, I would suspect liberal Christians are FAR more likely to be members of Churchs that frown upon overt interjections of faith into public life. The church I grew up in — it was considered rude to start spouting religius beliefs. It was a private topic, for private discussion — it certainly wasn’t something you aired in speechs. Since the rise of the Religious Right, belief has grown to be something trumpeted by politicians. That triggers very old lessons, learned when I was very young — beware those who speak too loudly of their faith, for they are hypocrites, braggerts, and too often seek to lead you astray. I don’t attend church anymore — but even when I was a believing Christian, I found the pious mouthings of politicians to be offensive. They made a public display of their faith — for votes. They sold Jesus down the river for a shot at the gold ring of office. It’s only gotten worse since. As a secular liberal, I find it offensive because the pandering is more and more obvious and blatant — the marginalization of other faiths (or no faith) is also of concern, but it seems like a religious arms race — who loves Jesus the most.That’s not what faith is for. But it’s a good lesson in why Church and State should remain apart.



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DLC

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:31 pm


Chadwig, You want a name named? OK–Chadwig! It’s been a long-noted phenomenon in left blogosphere comment threads that whenever this subject comes up, half the comments indignantly deny that anyone on the left denigrates religion, and the other half-denigrate religion. But it’s not often that you see a comment that does both simultaneously. You want credibility? Try not looking ridiculous.



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HASH(0x117f0f8c)

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:31 pm


“And for those who don’t think the Democrats have appeared hostile to religion, read the polls. That can’t just all be blamed on Fox News.” No, its also the fault of people like you, who claim there is this nebulous left out there that hates religion. Your basis for that is not any actual national Democratic politician, or figure, but one person at a “progressive political gathering” who pointed out that even so called progressive churches have a lot in their background to be ashamed of. (Who was MLK writing to from jail? oh yes, so called progressive religious leaders who were telling him to be patient). Your other complaint is people who say that religion should have no place in politics. Well, they are right. There is that whole “no religious test” thing enshrined in the consitution. Seperation of church and state is sort of important. That doesn’t mean that religious people should be banned from politics, or that religious values shouldn’t be part of the conversation. Those are completely seperate claims, and one no prominent Democrat makes. Anyone who says otherwise is just plain wrong.



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WoodyG'sGuitar, rogue scholar

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:34 pm


i don’t give a fuck about a person’s faith or its lack.as long as faith or its absence is not used as some spurious warrant to intrude a ‘faith-based’ politics into what is a fucking secular enterprise… what gives me a rosey red case of the ass is that ‘faith’ is never left in the personal sphere, but always leaks over into public policy where it has no place.i am unalterably opposed to the use of taxes paid by all people to fund programs which PROFIT only those who profess or protest ‘faith.’ why izzat so hard to figure understand?i do not give a flying fuck whether someone’s objections to abortion or family planning, or contraception spring from ‘an authentic faith.’ Faith is NOT grounds for preventing a woman from exerting HER control over HER own body, no matter the ‘religious conviction’ of her critics…that’s just another one of those special claims which the’faithful’ expect that ALL should acknowldege, for no other reason than their faith…FUCK THAT! jeezis…



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Clavis

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:35 pm


LauraB: And candidates talk all the time about things that aren’t “technically” related: how much they love their families, what inspirations their parents were, their affinity for puppies, etc. No one bats an eyelash at that. It’s only when they talk about their faith (which may genuinely be a very central aspect of their life) that it suddenly becomes controversial. Good point. My thinking on that is that politicians don’t generally go on TV and say, “I’m supporting Bill 1550 because I love puppies” or “I’m against abortion because my dad worked really hard when I was growing up.” I think you answered your own question when you said “while attacking a candidate’s faith (or openness about his/her faith) is in my view disrespectful, any policy positions that arise out of that faith are NOT immune from criticism. “. Politicians use their religion to bolster their convictions about a position. If you express confidence in a position based upon your experiences or your background, you can share that and expand on it in a way that we might be able to feel that we can see where you’re coming from. But religion isn’t like that. A religious justification is “This is how I see it because of my faith. You can’t question it or speak disrespectfully about it. Just nod your head and say something reverent and move on.” That’s unnacceptable. We need to be able to reach common ground on issues, and we CAN’T do that, by definition, if everybody’s positions are based on incommunicable personal faith. And when you said “while attacking a candidate’s faith (or openness about his/her faith) is in my view disrespectful“, you reminded me of something I touched on earlier — because religion is considered such a subjective and DEEPLY personal thing, there is no way to criticize someone’s religious positions WITHOUT it being disrespectful. The current exclusive status religion enjoys in this country is that, since religion posits irrational things and is so deeply personal, it’s considered inherently rude to point out those irrationalities… so we essentially can’t talk about religion in any but the most inoffensive and politically correct frameworks. I think the debate on gay marriage is the prime current example of religion being inappropriately translated into policy. I agree. In fact, I agree with most of what you said :)



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Clavis

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:38 pm


(Sorry, that should have been LauraF, not “LauraB”. :p ) Thomas Jefferson had the right idea when it came to faith vs. reason: Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear. That’s what our kids should be saying every morning, not this “Under God” tripe!



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Hecate, Runnymeade Conspirator

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:49 pm


Wallis needs to perpetuate the notion that “some” un-named liberals hate religion or he won’t get paid to “show” liberals how to “appeal” to “values voters.”



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lownslowav8r

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:55 pm


I haven’t been able to review all the comments here so perhaps this has already been said, but I wonder if many of the secular progressives Mr. Wallis has accusing of anti-religious bias have been in fact been attacking authoritarian religious belief. Authoritarian religious belief is not anywhere close to the what Christ, the Buddha, or Mohammad etc. actually taught and is actually more about power over other human beings than about becoming a better human being or closer to God.A rational person of any religious or non-religious background (and authoritarian followers are not rational) does not want authoritarian religious belief to become dominate in this country. This would be catastrophic, and we know this from the lessons of the past and the research of the present (http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/). Research has shown that authoritarian religious leaders are amoral and believe life is a jungle where only the strong will survive (and they want to be on the top of the food chain). They are attracted to religion because of the millions of authoritarian followers who are attracted to fundamentalist religious belief. Authoritarian followers are notable by their ability to ignore reality and their loyalty to leaders who abuse trust of their followers. Read the research. It is eye-opening, and frightening.



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Doug Dingus

posted February 22, 2007 at 9:07 pm


Mr. Wallis, I’ve been reading you for a long time. IMHO, you’ve got the issue nailed down pretty much spot on, as does Kos. Really you two are trading semantics, so stop it! For those having an issue with faith and politics, I’ve some food for thought that may prove useful: The matter of God, is among the set of not known true things, thus it is a matter of faith all of us must grapple with in our own way. We, as a race, do not possess the information necessary to resolve this matter to some reasonable concensus. What’s not obvious to those who have chosen to reject God, is their choice is also a matter of faith, in like kind! Again, we do not possess the information necessary to come to a reasonable consensus on the matter. Given some due consideration, all parties in this share common ground in the ambiguity we live in at this time. What should be obvious, but often isnt, is that in the end, faith is a part of our lives, no matter how one chooses to exercise it! Furthermore, we are, in this ignorance, all equal. This equality forms the basis for guidence as to what law is just and true for all, regardless of our respective positions on matters of faith. If we have the strength of character to consider the above realities honestly, it follows easily that there really is no discussion to be had over faith and politics; they are inseperable so far as we all suffer a degree of ignorance making the two necessary. In this forced endeavor, the larger issue is insuring we continue to honor the freedom granted to all of us mutually to persue our respective matters of faith to the maximum extent possible, barring infringment on one anothers mutual rights. If we fail in this, we deny ourselves the potential for the greater enlightenment we all seek in one form or another. Lastly, the only people, who have an issue with the above, are those whose weakness of character or mind, somehow consider their personal faith weakened through mere acceptance that the faith of others is on par with their own. These people confuse truth with conviction, or having the clarity of mind to differentiate the two, simply lack the character necessary to live among their peers as they should. Keep doing what you do. While we don’t share the same vision, I have come to realize the above, in part, through your fine efforts.



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wayne

posted February 22, 2007 at 9:08 pm


Clavis I understand why you feel, and think the way you do but you paint all of us with the same brush and I think you are wrong. Many people have more than feelings to back up their faith. Many religious types come from backgrounds where they once thought as you do now. It should be no surprise to you that people of faith get just as mad as you do when their thinking is criticized and called “unreasonable” or apart from reason or antithetical to it. The current head of the Genome project is a Christian, do you think he is beyond reason or incapable of thinking logically? It is impossible to criticise someone’s religious convictions and not have it come off as offensive. It is possible to raise objections or offer opposing views without do so.



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Christian

posted February 22, 2007 at 9:09 pm


Why does “secular” always need to be in quotes Jim?



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Erevann

posted February 22, 2007 at 9:16 pm


I feel I should speak up here, as the topic under discussion is directly relevant to a pretty personal, and painful, experience. I’ve told this story before over on DKos, but I think it’s worth repeating here. As a child I was sent to Catholic schools, as my family was Catholic. Most of the experience was good, and even one of my lay teachers, bucked the administration a little bit in order to teach us more about science and even begin teaching us French in third grade. She pushed me harder than I’d ever been to that date and I excelled under her. It was a great year. The very next year, after my 3rd grade teacher had been basically run out of the school, I was back under the tutelage of the nun’s. Through that entire year, I was physically and emotionally abused, severely and exclusively. In my recollection, it was very rare for any of my other classmates to receive the same treatment. Of course, most did not ask questions like I did, nor simply refuse to do things her way without question, without thought. One point of contention, was the way I would write the numeral 8. Up until that point, I would write the number as two circles, the smaller on top the larger. She would insist I form the figure 8 instead.Seems a rather irrelevant distinction, doesn’t it? However, as I’d never used the figure 8, I would consistently, automatically, write out the numeral as I had for a few years. This would instigate beatings, complete with bruises. My parents, would brush it off when I told them, as they’d both gone to Catholic schools. It was when I had developed stress related skin rashes, severe ones and our doctor informed them it was a high amount of stress causing it, they put the pieces together. The rest is history, though I found out from family friends, that after we’d left the town, that church had brought her back to teach once again. For many years, I’d been openly hostile and very suspicious of almost all religions, Christianity in particular. As soon as the sermon’s begin, a preacher preaches, I feel myself ducking a blow. To this day, it’s an act of will, to sit still in any sort of religious service. I am happy to say though, that I’ve come to terms with the experiences, and while I remain cautious of religion, I’ve come to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff, if you will. I can even stand to sit through a mass once in a while! My point here is, that in many, not all mind you, but MANY cases, those hostile to religion, have had experiences such as mine, some even WORSE, as many former altarboys will attest to.Here you may find the key to addressing the concerns of many who would be hostile to religion in general. If you are one to listen to what Jesus himself taught, and not the twisted rantings of some evangelical conman such as Haggard, the gap can be bridged with time, patience, and compassion. Hope I’ve contributed something worthwhile to this discussion.S och n!



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LauraF

posted February 22, 2007 at 9:16 pm


And when you said “while attacking a candidate’s faith (or openness about his/her faith) is in my view disrespectful”, you reminded me of something I touched on earlier — because religion is considered such a subjective and DEEPLY personal thing, there is no way to criticize someone’s religious positions WITHOUT it being disrespectful. Interfaith (and faith-vs.-secularism) dialogue is difficult, yes, but I don’t think it’s impossible. Because religion IS personal, words and tone have to be chosen carefully (by ALL parties, not just the secular folk). People need to learn to share their views without being demeaning toward those who disagree with them (a good skill to learn for discussion in all sorts of areas, not just religion!) For example, I don’t share most of the religious views of Hindus or Muslims, but I would never use words like “irrational”, “fantasies”, “delusions”, etc., to describe their faith. If I did, they’d rightly take offense. I am a Christian, but I get annoyed by Billy Graham’s columns when he consistently suggests to any atheist or agnostic letter-writer that it must be their pride, egotism, or “desire to run their own life” that prevents them from accepting Christianity, rather than honest intellectual disagreement with Christian doctrine. Some may wish that religion could be discussed as objectively and unemotionally as science. And maybe in some venues it can be, such as a debate forum where all the participants know what the ground rules are. But for the most part, religion isn’t science, is IS (and SHOULD be) personal and emotional, and so that needs to be taken into account in public discourse. To use the earlier example of family, I may feel I have very rational reasons for thinking your gandfather is a jerk, but if I know you’re very close to your grandfather and have a strong emotional attachment to him, I’d better be very careful how (if at all) I express those views. If your love for your grandfather is causing you to do things that I feel are harming society, I have every right to oppose what you’re doing, but it probably wouldn’t be wise for me to try to talk you out of loving your granfather.



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Gabe

posted February 22, 2007 at 9:35 pm


Name names. Not doing so is why many of us on the Left consider it a smear to all of us. It’s not taking the high road to refuse to do so. It’s refusing to admit this is mostly a strawman you’ve created. For me personally, it’s yet another attack from a voice in the political/religious community. I am not hostile to religion. I am defensive because I have to be. Be it Left or Right, religious voices in politics (I shouldn’t even be writing something like that) cannot understand extending the same respect they demand for the beliefs they hold dear and guide their life to others whose beliefs don’t come from religion. It’s arrogant.



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obi

posted February 22, 2007 at 9:44 pm


One’s religion (or lack thereof) is not by itself an important requirement of being a leader. However, when a politician is defining his or her image to the public, it is important for them to come across as genuine. If religion is an integral part of a politician’s life, then by all means they should express how that informs their positions on issues. If they are not comfortable doing that, then they shouldn’t try. I disagree with others here who have said a person talking about his or her faith somehow excludes seculars from the conversation. I am a man, but when women politicians talk about what their experiences have been, as women, that does not exclude me even if I don’t have the same experience. Not everything politicians say will speak to every person. We are all unique. Lastly, I’d like to give an example about how religion can inform the conscience of a person of faith. One of the biggest reasons that I am against the death penalty is probably because of my Catholic faith. The death penalty is only used in response to heinous crimes and when we hear about them, one’s reaction tends to be that those convicts deserve to die. However, key tenets of Catholicism are mercy, forgiveness and respect for life. When criminals are locked up and can do no more harm to society, killing them does no good. My faith helps me to overcome anger and disgust and serves as a reminder to forgive. I may not agree with every proclamation of the Vatican, but forgiveness and mercy are good, and my faith helps remind me to be a good person.



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smijer

posted February 22, 2007 at 9:46 pm


What’s not obvious to those who have chosen to reject God, is their choice is also a matter of faith, in like kind!

There are enough secular types here, that I doubt this comment will escape criticism. This isn’t the thread for a discussion of that, but it is a statement of a sort that makes me bristle, because I hear it very often from (presumably well-meaning), with whatever motivation behind it. I’ve explained it over & over again, until I’m tired of doing it. It puts me in a bad mood and makes me feel oppositional toward the person who puts it out there. If you’d like a philosophical discussion of your statement, there are plenty of places on the internet to be treated to that – but in the meantime, consider whether you or the secularist understands the secularist’s position better.



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Clavis

posted February 22, 2007 at 9:48 pm


I understand why you feel, and think the way you do but you paint all of us with the same brush and I think you are wrong. Many people have more than feelings to back up their faith. Many religious types come from backgrounds where they once thought as you do now. It should be no surprise to you that people of faith get just as mad as you do when their thinking is criticized and called “unreasonable” or apart from reason or antithetical to it. I’m afraid I’m not exactly clear on your point. Religious faith is inherently irrational. It’s not an insult to call a belief held “because I just know, okay?” an irrational belief: if you have no rational or reasonable basis on which to believe something to be true, then your belief IS irrational, by definition. The current head of the Genome project is a Christian, do you think he is beyond reason or incapable of thinking logically? You misunderstand me. I never suggested that religious people lacked the ability to think logically. I’m suggesting that religious beliefs are themselves illogical, and that it is only the desire to be “nice” or “corteous” that prevents us from discussing religious beliefs as openly and objectively as we discuss global warming or alternative energies. Nobody says, “Well, I think solar power is bad, and that’s my belief, so you can’t criticize it!” That would be insane. But change “solar power is bad” to “Jesus is Lord” or “There is no God but Allah”, and suddenly I’m supposed to be very respectful and corteous when they say “Nothing you ever say will change my mind”? It is impossible to criticise someone’s religious convictions and not have it come off as offensive. It is possible to raise objections or offer opposing views without do so. wayne To me, the fate of the entire human race is more important than a few offended believers. Don’t you think it’s more respectful to treat people like adults who can reason, rather than treating people like children who believe in Santa Claus? Which is more important — letting people enjoy their unsupportable beliefs or bringing everybody together on common ground? Maybe if our society forced religious people to spell out their beliefs and recognize how irrational they were, instead of pandering to the religious right, we wouldn’t have so many evangelists controlling our government.



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Clavis

posted February 22, 2007 at 9:49 pm


What’s not obvious to those who have chosen to reject God, is their choice is also a matter of faith, in like kind! As a wise person once said: Atheism is a faith the way not collecting stamps is a hobby.



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smijer

posted February 22, 2007 at 9:56 pm


forgiveness and mercy are good, and my faith helps remind me to be a good person.

Forgiveness & mercy are good. Have you tried tying a string around your finger? ;-) Seriously – As a reminder to be true to one’s own conscience, I have no beef with religion. That’s a service, and if that works for you, then great. But they way you explained it, it seems that your *conscience* informs your vote on CP, and your religion simply reminds you to do it that way. I wouldn’t call that the same thing as allowing one’s religion to inform one’s vote.



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dave

posted February 22, 2007 at 10:01 pm


Wallis needs to perpetuate the notion that “some” un-named liberals hate religion or he won’t get paid to “show” liberals how to “appeal” to “values voters.” DING DING DING DING DING! We have a wiener!!!



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Clavis

posted February 22, 2007 at 10:01 pm


obi: Lastly, I’d like to give an example about how religion can inform the conscience of a person of faith. One of the biggest reasons that I am against the death penalty is probably because of my Catholic faith. The death penalty is only used in response to heinous crimes and when we hear about them, one’s reaction tends to be that those convicts deserve to die. However, key tenets of Catholicism are mercy, forgiveness and respect for life. When criminals are locked up and can do no more harm to society, killing them does no good. My faith helps me to overcome anger and disgust and serves as a reminder to forgive. I may not agree with every proclamation of the Vatican, but forgiveness and mercy are good, and my faith helps remind me to be a good person. Thank you for that. “Religion” as a term means so many different things, and when someone tries to criticize the “unquestioning acceptance of irrational beliefs” part of religion, inevitably people get offended because they think you’re trying to criticize the “fellowship and communion and spirituality” part of religion. May I offer an observation? It’s been suggested by some (myself included) that people who believe they are getting their morals from their religion or their faith are often crediting their religion when they ought to be crediting other things, such as their upbringing, their instincts, the cultural surroundings, etc. In other words, it sounds as if you have a personal philosophy based partially upon ideas in the Catholic teachings that you have accepted. You say yourself above that you “may not agree with every proclamation of the Vatican”. Doesn’t that mean your moral sense is, by definition, NOT a “Catholic” moral sense, if you’re picking and choosing amongst the official Catholic ‘rules’? Do you know what I mean? How do you decide which proclamations of the Pope are ‘sensible’ morals for you to adopt, and which aren’t, other than with a larger moral compass you already possess. (BTW, I also am against the death penalty, even though I don’t believe in God or Jesus or the soul or Heaven or Hell. I’ll bet you and I have some of the same reasons for being against it — but how could that be, when you and I apparently disagree as to the nature of the entire universe?) You’ve taken on such moral senses as mercy and forgiveness. You were exposed to them through your relationship to the Catholic Church, but, let me put it this way: Would you still think that mercy and forgiveness were positive moral concepts, even if you didn’t believe that Jesus was your Savior or that God wants you to accept Jesus? Probably. And that’s my point (or at least one of them) — that we need to separate supernaturalism from the cultural and communal aspects of religion.



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Antonym

posted February 22, 2007 at 10:13 pm


Jim doesn’t name names because he’s now a political player in Washington. You have to live here to understand the depth of favors that are traded by political operatives. SJ and Jim have not hit the bigtime! It’s about their “agenda” and that means having to trade “faithbabble” because they now have a recognized niche in the conversation. Jim loves the limelight,and doesn’t hesitate to grab the mike or sit in front of the camera. This behavior teaches others that the primary objective is to “get press”, at whatever the cost. It also encourages coalition building with virtually “anyone”, so long as there is an “opportunity” to “spead the message”. This kind of Washingtonian co- and tri-habitation is costing Jim and SJ the little credibility they have. I used to be a fan of SJ and Jim, but my stomach turns more than ever about their quest for visibility and voice. That’s not gospel, that’s opportunism.



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Antonym

posted February 22, 2007 at 10:14 pm


Correction: Jim and SJ have NOW hit the bigtime! (Sorry for the typo)



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christiannoapologyneeded

posted February 22, 2007 at 10:15 pm


“we need to separate supernaturalism from the cultural and communal aspects of religion.” Clavis- You are arrogant. Why are you so hell-bent on trying to “prove” that someone’s beliefs aren’t connected to their “irrational” faith? Your comment on “supernaturalism” is simplistic, not to mention rude. YOUR disbelief doesn’t mean that everyone has to align with your worldview, or they are somehow inherently irrational. God knows you have a right to your belief system, but obvoiusly others do as well. This is a Christian website. It’s okay if people have Christian beliefs. The fact that we all have beliefs and behaviors influenced by our upbringing is still not empirical evidence that faith doesn’t inform a person’s cultural and human interactions. Have you ever heard of John Newton? The guy was an ass…until he had a conversion experience. Totally changed his behavior. Had his upbringing changed? Had his circumstances changed? Nope.I don’t care what you believe. I don’t understand your need to tear up others’ beliefs. Your intolerance is unbelievable!



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Dan S.

posted February 22, 2007 at 10:25 pm


LauraF: “But for the most part, religion isn’t science, is IS (and SHOULD be) personal and emotional, and so that needs to be taken into account in public discourse.” It seems to me, though, that this – which I generally agree with – gets back to the very point you were responding to. When we’re talking about that category of public discourse that is specifically political discourse (in the strict sense), do you see how this ends up being very problematic? It’s easy to get into a situation where, to use your rather good example, trying to oppose what one’s doing out of love for their grandfather is pretty much going to be understood as an attempt to talk oneself out of loving one’s grandfather, or worse, attacking this love, or the grandfather himself, perhaps?



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Clavis

posted February 22, 2007 at 10:41 pm


I don’t care what you believe. I don’t understand your need to tear up others’ beliefs. Your intolerance is unbelievable! christiannoapologyneeded You obviously are highly intolerant of what *I* believe. And you admit yourself that you have made no attempt to empathize with me or see my point of view. God knows you have a right to your belief system That’s kind of funny, although I know you didn’t mean it that way. Most believers in a “one true God” believe that God prefers one belief system over all the others. So you might say that “God knows I DON’T have a right to my belief system”, unless it’s His. ;) Anyway, you have accused me of about half a dozen things I didn’t do or say, from “trying to “prove” that someone’s beliefs aren’t connected to their “irrational” faith” to “everyone has to align with your worldview, or they are somehow inherently irrational”. Here’s my point, spelled out for you so you don’t assume anything: the benefits people get from participating in a church or congregation are entirely separate from whether the supernatural beliefs or tenets of that church have any connection to reality. In other words, if people want to get all happy because they get to go to a big, fancy gilded building once a week where they can sing exciting gospel songs and feel really great, that’s fantastic. But the fact that a lot of people are made to feel really good from a social participatory event does not mean that there actually exists a God, or Jesus, or Heaven, or souls, or Hell or Satan or any of that stuff. Got it? I don’t think you’re irrational because you disagree with me. I just think, 200 years after Thomas Paine wrote The Age of Reason, that I should be culturally allowed to question supernatural evidenceless claims without being accused of being “arrogant” or “intolerant”. I tolerate you just fine. But if you say something stupid to me, I’m going to say, “Gee, that’s stupid”, whether what you said has anything to do with magic or spirits or ghosts or whatever. Maybe you should ask yourself why you’re so offended when I ask for evidence of your supernatural beliefs. Would you be offended if I asked to see your driver’s license? Maybe you would act offended if you were an illegal alien trying to avoid showing your fake ID to me… get it? People get defensive when they realize they have nothing with which to back up their outrageous claims. You’re the one who demands that I respect your belief in an invisible everywhere-guy called “Jehovah”, and *I’m* the arrogant one just for demanding the same level of evidence that you’d want from a used car dealer?



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Mike Hayes

posted February 22, 2007 at 10:56 pm


Clavis, and christiannoapologyneeded, I think that being raised from early childhood to believe in one or another sect of Christianity results in our accepting beliefs as fact… because those beliefs seem so real to us. My guess is that something similar happens in Muslims and Jewish cultures in which persons think of their beliefs as reality… it becomes a part of our (their) subconscious view of all of life. On the other hand, persons who grow up in our society (or a Muslim or Jewish society) withot being taught to accept the beliefs do not have that same sense (reality) of those things that are real to us. Then there are those who begin to question beliefs as they live and encounter opposing views and they no longer have that sense of beliefs as “real”. I realize I’m not saying anything new, but I think that is what is contributing to the differences in how each of you see “reality”… Beliefs seem very real.



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monkeys fer Christ

posted February 22, 2007 at 11:22 pm


Clavis, please do more posts. You have not contributed enough to this discussion. We want to hear even more of what you have to say.



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Clavis

posted February 23, 2007 at 12:56 am


Clavis, please do more posts. You have not contributed enough to this discussion. We want to hear even more of what you have to say. monkeys fer Christ If you insist… Mike Hayes I agree with you. What’s so frustrating to me is that I’ve never had any ulterior motives. When I was really young, I believed in Santa Claus *and* God. That’s not a joke. I really did. My parents told me I was supposed to say my prayers every night before I went to bed, so I believed them. When you’re a kid who knows at any moment that your parents might burst into your room unexpected and undetected, like I was, the notion that there was a big spirit in the sky that I couldn’t see, but who could see me, wasn’t out of the question. And I remember leaving presents for Santa. Again, it wasn’t out of the question that this guy came into our house in the middle of the night. It was kind of exciting to think about it at that age. As I grew older, I never lost that child’s ability to ask “Why?” It troubled me (and still does, I guess) that nobody ever EVER gave me good answers to my questions about the Christian dogma. Inevitably, I was either fobbed off or chastised. People responded emotionally to my entirely reasonable questions. (They still do, in case you hadn’t noticed.) The best reason I have to NOT believe in God is that nobody has ever given me a good reason TO belive in God. It’s not a “slam dunk”, perhaps… but if everybody expresses an emotional investment in a belief, and nobody EVER gives you a single reason to share that belief… what would YOU do? I never got fondled by a priest or anything. It’s just that, as I grew up, I learned to be a critical thinker, and religious and supernatural beliefs consistently failed to demonstrate themselves to be anything other than misconceptions bolstered by cultural empowerment and institutionalization. I used to think religious people were stupid, but I was younger and dumber back then. I don’t think that at all anymore. In fact, I’ve long considered the possibility that authoritarian worship is simply a normal genetic trait of humans, like heterosexuality, and that abberations either serve some larger evolutionary purpose or are simply part of having chaotic, big-ass brains. We already know that most large groups (armies, churches, political movements) consist of a few leaders and many followers. We also know that there have always been weirdos and holy men and witch doctors and mad scientists — people who saw the world in a new way, or perhaps simply lacked the ability to follow along like everybody else. Skepticism (or an inability to have faith), like homosexuality, could very well be a genetic “freak-out” that pops up in 1/10th or so of the population. I don’t have “faith” in anything. I don’t think faith is valuable. I have trust, but that’s based on evidence. But that’s just me. I don’t hate faith. I’m just not wired for it. If you ask a lot of skeptics, they’ll tell you same thing. It’s not because they “hate God” or are “trying to avoid God’s judgment” (things I’ve been told numerous times); it’s that their brain does not lead them to this conclusion, and the notion of “having faith anyway” just doesn’t compute.



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Bill Samuel

posted February 23, 2007 at 12:58 am


What Jim Wallis has been doing is to get Democrats to do faith talk. Just what folks like Jerry Falwell did with Republicans. And just as objectionable. We don’t need more hypocrital politicians claiming to be Christian, Jewish, Muslim or whatever. What we need are the values expressed by Jesus Christ (and sometimes by people in other faith traditions) brought to bear in the public arena. The result of Wallis following the toady up to the powerful approach is yet more politicians claiming to be Christian (or occasionally some other faith) while pushing unChristian policies. And for Sojourners, it has resulted in it losing its prophetic voice and appearing to stand for things the opposite of what it historically stood for. While Sojourners is officially supportive of the consistent life ethic, it is functionally supportive of the consistent death ethic because it touts consistent death ethic politicians like Clinton and Obama. This is why I urge people not to support Sojourners/Call to Renewal, and instead support groups that genuinely bring Christian faith to bear in the public policy arena, like Evangelicals for Social Action and Friends Committee on National Legislation. Sojourners seems spiritually and politically bankrupt.



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amberglow

posted February 23, 2007 at 1:23 am


I wonder how people reconcile our federal death penalty, and the waging of war with religion? No religion that i know of condones killing at all, and in fact explicitly condemns them (but then at the same time Gods or prophets have called for believers to go kill enemies, etc). There are many many areas of government, laws, and policy that are simply fundamentally incompatible with most if not all religions. I think it’s one set of tribal values (Civic and social and legal ones?) as explcitly opposed to a set of religious values (and in reality many differing and exclusive sets of religious values). Lieberman went to vote this past Saturday even tho he was forbidden to do so, religiously (and he is observant). He would have been unable to do his job if he had operated according to his religious responsibility instead of his civic one. (i don’t like him, but he’s a good example of the conflicts that arise)



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amberglow

posted February 23, 2007 at 1:25 am


also, the point about politicians using everything (including their faith) to get votes is very important, and immediately makes their proclamations suspect until their actions prove otherwise. We’re not fools and know that all politicians on all sides use everything that will gain them even one more vote–look at how the GOP has used the religious right, for instance.



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MS

posted February 23, 2007 at 1:32 am


Sorry, you are wrong to equate my support of a secular state with any disparaging of religion. Your conclusion is not correct: The Left (liberal left) does not disparage religion or religiosity. Like many, I am a leftist liberal. I am religious. And I do not make political decisions based upon my religious beliefs. I support the right of everyone, in every religion, to practice their own beliefs. And it’s fine with me if someone wants to come to political decisions from a religious perspective — or not. I have never disparaged anyone for their religious beliefs. I do oppose the Christian Right for expecting me to follow their dictates, and trying to make this a religious (Christian) state. To keep my family from seeing “R-rated” movies. To keep my daughters from considering abortions if they deem that necessary. To keep my gay friends in committed relationships from marrying if they wish. I oppose certain political targets of the Religious Right. That does not in any way make me ‘opposed to religion.’ Please stop smearing the left with this un-founded attack.



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PJH in Minneapolis

posted February 23, 2007 at 1:35 am


Yesterday I was obligated by my six-year-old to explain what war is, whether it is OK to kill people who hurt our country, what government is, etc. Since we were driving down a nice six-lane city street I attempted to introduce what government is by explaining roads. Her response to my explanation was to correct me, “Jesus made the roads. Aren’t God and Jesus amazing?” So I understand many of you who I think would say to me, “Can’t we talk about roads without you claiming divine insight on pavement?” I let her dogma stand, for the time being. I desire the ways of her life, the use of her mind, and her citizenship to express action for justice, an embrace of mercy, and a life journey in humble submission to God.I trust a Jesus whose passions run deep for all humanity and creation will animate her life; and that she grants every person absolute dignity. I want her to discipline her mind and hear the profound questions and challenges to the thoughts of her father. I want her to hear with a profound love for what is true–to be an instrument of God’s peace.



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HASH(0x11820cdc)

posted February 23, 2007 at 2:13 am


There are Republicans who are secretly still members of KKK and are extreme racists—but John McCain does not call on them to change–because they are a fringe minority who dont matter. If you met an extremely vocal anti religious –these are fringe minority–most likely not even Democrats at all–since they are intolerant people. So please never never lump Democrats, liberals with religious intolerant people. They may not even be Democrats at all. Remember people like you are the majority of Democrats and talk to this majority and not to the fringe minority. Ignore the fringe minority. Pastor Dan has weekly Sunday services in DailyKos and his diary is always on the recommended list. Even though majority of DK is secular.What Obama did, and what you are doing is like what Bush did—equate Saddam and Iraq and 911 and War on terrorism—never telling a lie but putting both issues in the same sentence so that people thought Iraq was responsible for the World Trade attacks and is part of the War on Terror. That is the problem. Embrace religious people to come to Democrats side. Be that example that there are many faith filled Democrats like you. But dont make it seem liberals are out to get you.



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LauraF

posted February 23, 2007 at 6:25 am


It’s easy to get into a situation where, to use your rather good example, trying to oppose what one’s doing out of love for their grandfather is pretty much going to be understood as an attempt to talk oneself out of loving one’s grandfather, or worse, attacking this love, or the grandfather himself, perhaps? Some people may view it that way, but frankly, if you’re not willing to have your religiously-informed political views criticized (or can’t separate such criticism from an attack on your faith as a whole), then you probably have no business putting your views out there in the first place. Some final thoughts on religion, science, and rationality. I’ve said in my earlier posts that religion is personal and emotional. And it is, but it’s not JUST personal and emotional. Religion does make truth claims (at least most faith traditions do). However, religion and spirituality are based on the idea that there are some truths that can’t be discerned through rational analysis alone. (Different religious traditions place different degrees of importance on reason, but I don’t know of any religion that believes in reason ALONE as the way one discerns truth…although the UU’s come close I guess.) So to take religious beliefs that were never based on rational scientific analysis (and never claimed to be), and say that because the person can’t empirically prove that their belief is true, then it should be discounted, misses the point. (It was commented above that this makes religious views irrational, in the literal sense of “not rational”. Maybe technically, but since “irrational” is taken almost universally as a pejorative meaning crazy, nonsensical, etc., it’s probably best to avoid that word.)



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Doug

posted February 23, 2007 at 10:56 am


Clavis wrote: “The best reason I have to NOT believe in God is that nobody has ever given me a good reason TO belive in God. It’s not a “slam dunk”, perhaps… but if everybody expresses an emotional investment in a belief, and nobody EVER gives you a single reason to share that belief… what would YOU do?” Fair enough. I like the glimpse into your soul and how you reason. Now, do you really want an answer? Is there any answer one could give that might possibly change your mind?If so, we can continue. If not, my contribution ends here.



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Christopher Kolb

posted February 23, 2007 at 12:35 pm


Reading (most of) these responses to the discussion between Kos and Jim Wallis saddens me deeply. If these responses are in any way representative of the progressive community, Bush and company have little to worry about. Any person of faith who has spent a significant of time around secular progressives as I have (largely in academia) knows from personal experience that Jim Wallis’ refusal to “name names” is indeed the high road, as opposed to an empty allusion to a group that does not exist. Would that it were! After six years of rule under Bush, it is understandable that people are wary of religion in the public sphere, but it is precisely at these historical moments when authoritarian demagogues are busy getting everyone (on all sides) all worked up into a frenzy that it is most important to keep your head about you (and not, for instance, accuse Jim Wallis of getting rich by creating and exploiting a religious-secular divide in the left — I’m sure he’s raking it in and has a legion of Rolls Royce’s in his driveway out of which he steps into one of his three hot tubs!!!). There was never a more radical political figure than Jesus (who was so threatening that even his very EXISTENCE crumbled the existing political order, who HAD to be put to death simply because he lived out the fullness of his religion). There have never been more radical political movements than those based on religion. From pacifist abolitionsism, to John Brown, to the Civil Rights movement just to name a few, has anything other than religion ever so greatly inspired people to put their very lives at stake for truth and justice? In an era when it’s fashionable (if not a little understandable) to want to “ban all religions” or exclude it from the public sphere, we should remember that if we did so then people would just invent pseudo-religions (what we might call “state religions”) to fill the void and justify all sorts of injustice. To not recognize that religion must have a place (note, I did not say “the” place) in any progressive political agenda is to be caught in some bizarre and politically masochistic will to self-destruction.



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PJH in Minneapolis

posted February 23, 2007 at 2:25 pm


I, like C. Kolb, have some sadness after reading the full set of comments; but let me say I have learned and been enriched. Thank you.



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Rd52072

posted February 23, 2007 at 4:11 pm


Feh. And “Some Jews” are out to destroy the state and Poison the good German people.Put up or Shut up.



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Clavis

posted February 23, 2007 at 4:34 pm


Doug: Fair enough. I like the glimpse into your soul and how you reason. Wow, thank you. That’s a very nice thing to say. :) Now, do you really want an answer? Is there any answer one could give that might possibly change your mind? OF COURSE! Of course I’m open to changing my mind. I’m open to changing my mind, potentially, about ANYTHING!!! On one side of the God Spectrum is Spinoza’s and Einstein’s “God” — the sum total of the laws and constants of the universe; the ‘first cause’ that started it all and does nothing else. On the other end is the infinitely involved evangelist God, who has specific tastes and preferences for every aspect of our behavior, controls the fall of every sparrow, and influences every drop of rain to fall where it suits Him. And there’s a million shades in between. So many people mean so many different things when they say “God” or “Christianity” or “religion”. And I accept the possibility that any particular one of them might be 100% right… including you! My current state is “withholding of belief”. It’s not just that the stories I am told about Christ or Genesis or Heaven seem improbable. It’s that they don’t make sense. If I told you I was seven feet tall, you might doubt me, but you’d concede it was perfectly plausible. If I told you I was seven feet tall *and* was in the Guinness Book of Records for “Shortest Man Alive”, you would 100% doubt me, because the elements of the story don’t come together. It’s not just a hard story to believe — it’s internally contradictory (assuming there isn’t some bizarre twist that’s being kept from you). To me, that’s how Christianity is. Again, I’m not dismissing anything in advance. I listen to believers, I ask questions, and the answers I get are inevitably contradictory and unsatisfactory. It’s not even really a matter of preferring cold, Vulcan reason over human emotion or intuition or spirituality… it’s that, if I’m being asked to have faith in an idea or a set of ideas, I need to know WHAT THOSE IDEAS ARE. There’s a trick you can play on people when you’re playing “Twenty Questions”. (I assume you know what that is.) You don’t pick an object; you just answer “Yes” and “No” at random, or depending on whether the question ends with a vowel, or something. The person will end up trying to figure out “What is green, bigger than a mailbox, can’t be seen, speaks French and has been to the moon?” The joke is that eventually the person guessing has an unwieldy set of claims that don’t really reconcile with each other. That’s kind of how it feels to me, when I ask questions, for example, about Heaven or Satan — I’m told two or three things that seem to contradict one another. Once, I asked a chat room whether you retain your knowledge of Hell and Earth when you get to Heaven. Some said “yes”; some said “no”. Both answers trouble me for different reasons. If “yes”, then how can Heaven be a happy place, since you are aware of the eternal suffering of friends and family? If “no”, then what is Heaven worth, if it takes a ‘holy lobotomy’ to make you happy? Either way, the asserted perfection and happiness of Heaven doesn’t reconcile with this conundrum. The pieces don’t fit together! If believers can’t agree on the details, and can’t reconcile the details they DO agree on, then it’s not about my belief so much as my understanding. Anyway, I hope that makes sense. Thanks for asking. :)



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Clavis

posted February 23, 2007 at 4:43 pm


LauraF : So to take religious beliefs that were never based on rational scientific analysis (and never claimed to be), and say that because the person can’t empirically prove that their belief is true, then it should be discounted, misses the point. I guess my way of thinking about it is, if we all need to get together around a worshop table to fix and perfect this world TOGETHER, we need to all recognize the tools on the table. If you don’t see my hammer, or I can’t see your saw, we’re going to get mad at each other and not be ABLE to work together. This whole moderate notion of “agreeing to disagree” misses the point. Ideas in which one has an emotional investment of “faith” are never going to be ON the table. They’re sacred; untouchable; off-limits. And that makes them impossible to use as common tools. If I discover a cure for cancer, I can spread the technical details all over the world. The language exists to communicate, for example, a stretch of DNA, or a medical process, so that we can all be on the same page. But if I think I can save the world by getting everybody to convert to my religion, that’s *never* going to be something that will communicate, because it can’t be translated into the universal language of ideas. “Agreeing to disagree” about the cosmos and the afterlife and the meaning of existence is just kicking it down the road, hoping it won’t blow up in our generation. And I think we can see that that strategy really doesn’t work forever… (It was commented above that this makes religious views irrational, in the literal sense of “not rational”. Maybe technically, but since “irrational” is taken almost universally as a pejorative meaning crazy, nonsensical, etc., it’s probably best to avoid that word.) It was not my intention to insult, but to point out an important factor. Maybe the connotation is because, with the exception of religion, irrationality is universally accepted AS crazy or nonsensical. Again, the only area in which irrationality is given an imprimatur is with faith-based ideas. And this imprimatur is protected by cultural factors. Again, forgive me, but I just don’t have the vocabulary. Either you have good reasons for believing what you do, or you don’t. If you do, I’d like to hear them. But will they make any sense to me? I’m reminded of a great old saying about beliefs: If you don’t explain it, I can’t understand it. If you *can’t* explain it, you *don’t* understand it.



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Wolverine

posted February 23, 2007 at 5:01 pm


Clavis wrote: If you don’t explain it, I can’t understand it. If you *can’t* explain it, you *don’t* understand it. Yes, but that doesn’t mean “it” isn’t true. Right now, there’s an idea in physics called “string theory”. Now there are a lot of holes left in the theory, and even its proponents will admit that they don’t have all the details worked out. There’s a lot they can’t explain because their understanding is incomplete. But that doesn’t mean the theory is false, and that doesn’t stop physicists from talking about it. God is a lot like that. There so much we don’t understand and can’t explain. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist, and it certainly doesn’t mean we should stop talking about him. Wolverine



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Dan S.

posted February 23, 2007 at 7:01 pm


My comment vanished into the aether, but that’s ok, ’cause Clavis’s 11:48 one says it better. Although, look, a lot of things are irrational. Love. Hope. Etc. And I’m not sure why kickin’ it down the road won’t work forever (well, at least as long as we can manage a multi-whatever, tolerant, cosmopolitan culture. {checks watch}. _____ “What is green, bigger than a mailbox, can’t be seen, speaks French and has been to the moon?” Oooh, oooh, I know, I know! ____________ C. Kolb: “has anything other than religion ever so greatly inspired people to put their very lives at stake for truth and justice?” Yes (especially if we qualify with ‘what they understood to be truth and justice’). Communism. Nationalism. The labor movement. A strong but non-theistic sense of ethics. Etc. Religion has also greatly inspired people to put other people’s lives at stake, so to speak, as have many of the ideologies I listed (if perhaps not in quite so literal a fashion).”In an era when it’s fashionable (if not a little understandable) to want to “ban all religions”” I can’t see that this is by any stretch of the imagination fashionable, even among the minority of the population that are nontheists (or even among the minority of them that think religion is just bad) “or exclude it from the public sphere,” Well,I don’t want government-sponsored prayers in public school, any more (and with just as much justification) than religious folks would like their kid’s teacher to stand up and lead the class in a ritual affirming the non-existence of gods*, with the kid maybe given the option of sitting quietly all by himself. Or gov’t sponsored creche scenes, posting up in the 10 Commandments in gov’t courthouses. These are all things lots of folks would howl about if it wasn’t privileging their religion, at least in a vague, generic sense – and rightly so. And I don’t want politicians taking religion out of the autobiographical (if they wish) and putting it into the governmental. And you know what? That’s very American of me. But you know what else? I don’t want places of worship closed, I don’t want religious tv/radio shows or channels banned, or religious publications censored or surpressed , or religious organizations or groups broken up, or public discussion of religion even frowned upon, or anything like that. I just don’t want religion being used by politicians to justify idiotic and bigoted policies, or even enlightened and progressive policies – specific merits and common language, please. In other words, I’m ok with people expressing religion in the public sphere (as long as there’s just as much room for non-religion; some of us find god/s as relevant as the state of Brittany Spears’ scalp, or no more something to talk about than the intimate details of one’s marriage, and that has to be ok). It’s the governmental sphere that I have a problem with. (It’s a little more complicated, but I don’t quite have the words). “we should remember that if we did so then people would just invent pseudo-religions (what we might call “state religions”)” What I remember is that various ideologies – rather pseudo-religion-ish ones – have tried to repress religion, out of conviction/getting rid of competition/etc. It seems to me as if perhaps you’re getting this backwards, but perhaps I misunderstand. * yes, that would be kinda silly.



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JustLurkin"

posted February 23, 2007 at 7:22 pm


Well put, Wolverine. And Amberglow, you rock! Clavis, Let me start out by saying I’m not Christian, and I really don’t know if a Divine Being, the way it’s often described, exists. I once told my spiritual leader “I don’t know if there really is a Divine Being” and without missing a beat she said, “None of us do.” So PLEASE stop being so obnoxious against Religion as a whole, I’m sorry to hear you had such a f–ed up religious upbringing yourself but as a free thinker I stand by my right to entertain the possibility that there may be a Force out there greater than what we know. And just because (to me) said Force isn’t some mysterious old white guy up in the clouds who will send me to Hell for picking my nose in church, doesn’t make me an Atheist. I’m proud to consider myself a religious person, to me that simply means drawing on my inner strength in times of great duress, and where that strength comes from, I don’t know. But it’s a strength that motivates me to help my neighbor in times of trouble, to show compassion to my enemy (when I’d really like to kick butt), and to rise up to challenges even when I don’t feel I have the potential. I’m sure you have this inner strength too, we just call it by different names. You say poTAYto, I say poTAHto. But while you justifiably bristle at pedantic evangelicals (as do I) I would hope that you can understand why self-identified “religious” people like myself take umbrage to being called “believers in fairy tales” and other nonsense, by pedantic self-identified “atheists.” (Mind you I don’t lose sleep over it, but it IS obnoxious.) So, stop bashing religion and go watch Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life or something. ;)



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JustLurkin

posted February 23, 2007 at 8:12 pm


Actually, Clavis, re-reading some of the posts, I think we’re more on the same page than not. But I just get a little pissy when atheists (not you per se) lump all self-identified “religious” folk into one blind, ignorant, intolerant, Bible-thumping mass. (I’ve had enough run-ins with atheists that were just as unpleasant as your run-ins with the fundies to conclude that they’re both equally abhorrent.) You still oughta watch The Meaning of Life though. As for the topic at hand, perhaps they can put religion in politics once they take the politics out of religion…



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Dan S.

posted February 23, 2007 at 10:18 pm


” But I just get a little pissy when atheists . . .lump all self-identified “religious” folk into one blind, ignorant, intolerant, Bible-thumping mass.” Me too, and I am an atheist, and one who, sorry to say, has done that on occasion. I much rather view folks as having all sorts of different and interesting beliefs, ones which I might not share, but nevertheless have things of value and uniqueness to them. The last quarter-century has really poisoned the well, though : ( I’ve been meaning to mention two bits from the original post, though. 1) “I was asked to address the annual meeting of the Democratic state party chairs, . . .Howard Dean welcomed me warmly and said we and other religious progressives had really helped the party . . . that they had listened to us . . . The response in the discussion period and in personal conversations afterwards was almost like a “camp meeting” with Democratic officials eager to say “I’m a Presbyterian,” “I’m a Baptist,” “I’m a Catholic,” “I’m a Jew,” “I’m a Unitarian.” . . .The level of comfort about being “religious” for these Democrats was very new according to almost everyone there . . . Several people spoke in the general session and came up to me later to say that they were “secular” and not religious at all. Each one said, “The way you talked about this subject didn’t make me feel left out, or just kicked to the curb. You . . .said we were all needed for that.” So: a) this doesn’t really seem to fit with the image of high-level hostility to religion, at least to me. Yes, b) there’s the new, greater comfort level, but listen to what the “secular” folks said:, implying that previous ways of talking about this had made them feel left out, kicked to the curb, not needed. Perhaps a lot of the wariness re: religion-talk has to do not so much with “some” secular progressives, but with the way such approaches has been discredited by the actions of some (hee hee) religious conservatives? 2) So thanks to anon many comments ago, we actually have a name and some details to put to the unnamed secular progressives who are so hostile to religion. And like I said, once we have actual details, the story gets more complicated. The one person we can identify turns out to be NOW President Kim Gandy. Now, I don’t agree with everything she said, but do you see, maybe, why the president of the National Organization for Women might be saying these things? I’ve been thinking a lot about the politics of hope and fear, and while there’s hope in that speech, there’s also fear, and to be honest, it’s quite justified. No, I know it’s not your fault, but just think about that. Wallis also seems to perhaps slightly misremember the bit he quotes from her speech, if that’s what he’s talking about. In the transcript, she says: “There was talk about faith-based initiatives and we’ve had faith-based initiatives for decades and decades. When I was in New Orleans 20 years ago, Catholic charities got a lot of federal government money to do a lot of good work that they do. But there was one string on that – they weren’t allowed to discriminate; they weren’t allowed to use that money to discriminate. And one place where Jim Wallis and I disagree vehemently is that he believes that the churches getting this faith-based money ought to be allowed to discriminate if it fits in with their religion, that it would be perfectly fine for churches using federal funds to hang up a sign that says, “No Jews Need Apply” or “No Christians Need Apply” or maybe, “Help Wanted: Aryan Nation Church Members Only.” Refusing to hire someone or even refusing to allow them to volunteer in a program that is federally funded social services is an affront to every civil rights principle that we have fought for for the last 40 years and it has no place in federal-funded programs. (Applause.)” Now, if she was misrepresenting Jim’s position, that’s one thing. And if not, you might say, hey, why’s she going out of her way to criticize him, just let it go – though she kinda answers this in the next paragraph, and that’s partly the point of her speech, which seems to have been in the context of a conference or meeting about religion and liberalism. As she put it: “And the idea that policy ought to be fueled by religion and religious beliefs may sound good when it’s your religion or your religious beliefs, but it gets downright sticky when someone else is in a position to impose his or her religious beliefs on you in a way that it will change your life forever – like being forced to bear an unwanted child.” Think about who who the most to gain, and who has the most to lose. Over at the Republic of T, terrance writes: “Wallis later responded to Kos response, attempting to find common ground. And there may yet be much common ground to be found between the religious and non-religious left. But, as I ve noted before, the compromise requires more sacrifice on the part of non-religious progressives, at least on some issues. . . . . . . At least part of the anger on the part of non-religous progressives probably stems from the noticeable pattern of backing off issues like marriage equality, choice, and church/state separation, in pursuit of partially progressive voters who are either squeamish about those issues or think they re not important enough to talk about right now; a page right out of Wallis own playbook for reaching out to progressive evangelicals.Some of the anger stems from the reality that, apparently, in this new, more religious Democratic party, some of us are inevitably going to get left behind. Or maybe it s not inevitable, but it s unclear right now whether we re actually trying to get to the same place on those issues, or whether some of us risk getting derailed if we go a long for the ride (and chip in for gas money).” Go read the rest. It ends very nicely: “That s because they, we, share many of the same values, and they stem from two different sources; one religious and the other not religious. If it s possible that there are many paths to the same place, then we might be moving toward (roughly) the same destination. But it s likely we ll need each other to get there. And we ll need to trust each other to navigate from time to time.Is it possible, maybe, that we need to have faith in each other?” And I mostly agree with this. Just please, please, please Jim, stop this “some secular progressives/Democrats/whatever” stuff! If you want to call us out – and I’m not going to say that all of us godless liberals are perfect, or have never done anything wrong or unwise – make the darn case, okay? Then we’all might actually have something of a dialogue, we might all have to grapple with these kinds of issues for real – which could only be a good thing (well, probably). Otherwise – you might think you’re taking the high road, but really, this is just the kind of BS Bush pulls – “some people say . .



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Dan S.

posted February 24, 2007 at 12:39 am


Er – If I ask people to read a post (“Talking Religion, In Good Faith”), I probably should post an actual link, somewhere, I guess. Oops.



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amberglow

posted February 25, 2007 at 1:54 am


thanks, JustLurkin–you too. “Perhaps a lot of the wariness re: religion-talk has to do not so much with “some” secular progressives, but with the way such approaches has been discredited by the actions of some (hee hee) religious conservatives?” Exactly. Too many Christians have no clue how much of their rhetoric sounds to those of us of minority religions (whether coming from the right or left), and how many “Christian” actions and proposed legislation/amendments/etc do exclude and discriminate and segregate, and privilege Christianity above others. Even calls for (Christian) politicians to speak more of faith means they won’t be speaking to all Americans. Politicians are not Martin Luther King–and MLK was specifically not a politician. There’s a lesson there.



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doug

posted February 25, 2007 at 6:44 pm


Clavis: Of course I’m open to changing my mind. I’m open to changing my mind, potentially, about ANYTHING!!! Me too, so it looks as though we can have a discussion! I’m not sure though which end to pick this up by, so perhaps I’ll start by responding to a few of your thoughts (and please bear in mind I’m speaking from the viewpoint of a believer). Clavis: “My current state is “withholding of belief”. It’s not just that the stories I am told about Christ or Genesis or Heaven seem improbable. It’s that they don’t make sense…To me, that’s how Christianity is. Again, I’m not dismissing anything in advance. I listen to believers, I ask questions, and the answers I get are inevitably contradictory and unsatisfactory.” Yes, I agree with you that there are seeming contradictions in the Bible. The one that is often very difficult is reconciling that God three persons (the doctrine of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), yet is one. People of Islamic faith really stare at us uncomprehendingly on this one – they think Christians worship 3 gods. Now, theological arguments on the Trinity aside, I don’t have a problem with this because I liken the Trinity relationship to water. Water is the only substance that can exist on Earth in 3 distinct phases simultaneously (liquid, gas, and solid, at 0C), yet does not undergo chemical transformation. It is 3 manifestations of the same essence. Of course, any analogy can only go so far, but I find this one fairly satisfying when it comes to trying to comprehend the nature of God, and that His essence can be expressed 3 distinct ways. Clavis: T”hat’s kind of how it feels to me, when I ask questions, for example, about Heaven or Satan — I’m told two or three things that seem to contradict one another. Once, I asked a chat room whether you retain your knowledge of Hell and Earth when you get to Heaven. Some said “yes”; some said “no”. Both answers trouble me for different reasons. If “yes”, then how can Heaven be a happy place, since you are aware of the eternal suffering of friends and family? If “no”, then what is Heaven worth, if it takes a ‘holy lobotomy’ to make you happy? Either way, the asserted perfection and happiness of Heaven doesn’t reconcile with this conundrum. The pieces don’t fit together!” A very interesting observation, one I had not considered. It’s a little bit like living in the present, actually, where some of us are fortunate to be warm and safe and dry, with plenty to eat and entertain us, while others live lives of utter desperation under hellish conditions, sometimes witness to unspeakable cruelty and terror (Iraq and Darfur immediately come to mind). How can I be happy when there is so much suffering in the world? As a matter of fact, many times I can’t, and my heart is very heavy for those less fortunate than myself. However, the difference I see here, with the situation you posed above, is that those who eventually end up in heaven or hell will have done so by exercising their free will. God forces Himself on no one. But, the Bible makes clear that the choices we make in this life have major implications for the life that is to come. So, as I see it, the fact that hell exists alongside heaven does not detract from the perfection of heaven. To anticipate the collorary, I also believe that God is ultimately just in how He deals with people, and everyone, no matter when or where they have lived, will have the opportunity to make this choice. But if this is not an acceptable answer for you, let me ask you this: do you agree that paradoxes exist (apart from Christianity)? How about the nature of light, which is contradictory in that it exhibits both wave and particle characteristics (i.e. both non-matter and matter)? Or the bumble bee that, areodynamically speaking, should not fly yet it does? For my part, seeing paradoxes that exist in every day life make it not unreasonable to accept paradoxes in Christianity. I recognize not everything is explanable at this stage. I don’t know if you ever read the book “Flatland” by Edwin Abott, which describes a 2-dimensional world that doubts 3-dimensions exist, and even persecutes those who assert it does. I find the extrapolation to the spiritual dimension an easy one to make, which implies that which seems paradoxal now is only so because of our limited viewpoint. Okay, the kids are screaming and I have to go now. I look forward to your response. Doug



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Squeaky

posted February 25, 2007 at 10:35 pm


I admit I haven’t read the entire thread–in fact, I’ve read about 10% of the first posts, so I apologize that I am completely out of touch with the conversation as it is progressing now. However, what I have read suggests that Wallis should “name names”. I may be misinterpreting what that means, although I think what people are asking is that Wallis give specific examples of those secularists who are strongly anti-religious. I think they may be demanding a name of a prominent figure in politics or our culture. I guess Richard Dawkins comes to mind–I know he isn’t in politics, but as author of many books that attack belief in God, I think he should qualify. If you really don’t believe that there are those in the Left who are vehemently attacking religion, I direct you to http://www.pharyngula.com (you’ll be redirected to the site if you wait, or just click on pharyngula). This is a popular, (award winning, even), science web-site by Dr. PZ Myers who teaches at University of MN-Morris. He regularly attacks creationists, Republicans, and religionists. He has posted several threads attacking Francis Collins, who is a prominent scientist and Christian. I have pointed out on several threads over the last year that if his goal is better science education, he needs to build bridges with those of us scientists who are not creationists or advocates of intelligent design rather than attacking them for their religious beliefs. He considers this compromising. He has also expressed his disdain for Barack Obama’s appeals to the religious community. He clearly prefers to eradicate religion and has no tolerance for building bridges. If you want a taste of what Wallis is talking about, spend some time there. You’ll get it then. Not just from what he says, but from what most of the posters on his blog say (there are the more moderate voices that try to speak up, although they are often labelled “concern trolls”). Trust me. You’ll get it.



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Keith Van Essen

posted February 26, 2007 at 10:31 am


jim’s use of the phrase “taking the high road” in his refusal to give specific names appears to be a major source of the contention here in that the phrase is often interpreted by some as indicating a moral superiority or a way to point out who is the better man for stepping up… but, i think there is room to also interpret this action of his as a short-hand way of saying he doesn’t think naming names is going to do anything for the conversation right now other than provoke more of the endless mud-slinging we’re so used to seeing between the far left and the far right… mud-slinging which often ends with further polarization and entrenchment in both camps and little real dialogue or search for common ground.



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Squeaky

posted February 26, 2007 at 6:25 pm


You’re right, Keith. People tend to want to be RIGHT that they nit-pick about every little thing. And this is just an example of that. Meanwhile, we have very real issues that need to be dealt with, and it would be far more effective to find common ground on those issues than it would be to grouse about all our differences.



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Dan S.

posted February 26, 2007 at 9:10 pm


Doug – I rather like that water analogy! And to be painfully pedantic, I have to point out that the ‘bumblebee, aerodynamically speaking, shouldn’t be able to fly’ bit is a (oft-repeated) myth. (And no, Eskimos [Inuit] don’t have 60+ different words for snow – at least, not in the sense we would think: the reality is rather more interesting). Squeaky: Except once you’ve lined up Dawkins and PZ, you’ve gotten into a ‘exception that proves the rule’ situation (at least in the current, somewhat illogical meaning – see here). Dawkins is neither a politician nor even American, he’s a British scientist (I assume he is on the left, but have never paid enough attention to be sure). PZ is American, but again, not a politician; he’s a professor and blogger whose power in the Democratic party or left-leaning politics in general is esentially nonexistent (his blog is quite popular for a science-related blog, sure, but . . .). These gentlemen’s views simply have no traction in actual politics. In other words, the issue isn’t if there are some people on the left who “are vehemently attacking religion” – there are – it’s whether they have any power or influence, whether they are broadly representative. I also find it very unlikely that people are being driven away from liberal social attitudes/movements or deciding not to vote/work for Democratic candidates because they read The God Delusion or Pharyngula. Additionally, I should note that the issue you mention re: anti-creationist tactics was a matter of sharp debate within the community, with PZ espousing what was only one of several sides. One of his posts on the subject is here: “Second, I’d really like to know how I’m supposed to be fighting this “war on religion”. Are there guns involved? Because I don’t like violence. Am I supposed to be pushing to legislate what people are allowed to believe? Because I don’t think that’s possible, and if it were, I’d oppose it even more strongly than violence. As near as I can tell, the way I’ve been fighting this “war” is to express my opinions as loudly and clearly as possible, and encourage other like-minded people to openly state their positions as well. I also insist that beliefs about religion should not be a litmus test used to discriminate against people (there is, of course, a great deal of self-interest there, since non-Christian beliefs are the ones discriminated against most).“Squeaky: “Not just from what he says, but from what most of the posters on his blog say” Again. Now we’re not even talking about PZ, but random folks posting comments on his blog! Do you see my point? Keith: “, i think there is room to also interpret this action of his as a short-hand way of saying he doesn’t think naming names is going to do anything for the conversation right now other than provoke more of the endless mud-slinging we’re so used to seeing between the far left and the far right…” This may well be his intention, and it’s understandable, but: a) as is, it just serves to reinforce (however slightly) rightwing talking points about Democrats/liberals as being Godless elite cosmopolitan religion-haters who mock everything you hold dear,and b) to repeat a point I’ve tried to make here and on the previous thread: without details, there’s perhaps a slightly greater appearance of politeness, but even less chance for dialogue and understanding. As long as it’s just ‘some secular progressives,’ it’s hard to grapple with actual reality, which includes who might be doing this, why they might be doing this, and of course the fact that it all seems to boil down to 1) a few potty-mouthed bloggers preaching to the choir and 2) some political folks who aren’t that comfortable mixing politics and religious talk. And 3), the president of NOW, being misquoted by Wallis. Perhaps he doesn’t know, but the ‘some [x]] formulation is at this point essentially a smear, partly for this reason – it makes it impossible to really evaluate the statement, or determine how representative of a group it is, at least without great familiarity or wide-ranging research.



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Bill

posted February 27, 2007 at 5:00 pm


Jim, Maybe you could regain your credibility with KKKOS and other far left anti semetic bloggers that are the mainstream of the national Democrat party, by posting something that better reflects the views of the most recent posters. All (100%)of the comments about the terrorist attact on Cheney are either regreting that “they missed” or that he was not caputred and tortured. If you post a blog expressing these sentiments maybe you will be back in thier good graces. I am sure it is depressing for a SDS member to be rejected by the modern left for any reason.



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Maldives holidays

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