God's Politics

God's Politics


Jim Rice: Cal Thomas on the ‘End of the Religious Right’

posted by gp_intern

Cal Thomas’ essay “The Beginning of the End of the Religious Right?” uses the occasion of the closing of one of the Coral Ridge Ministries of D. James Kennedy to argue that:

Christians must first understand that the issues they most care about – abortion, same-sex marriage and cultural rot – are not caused by bad politics, but are matters of the heart and soul.

Thomas goes on to write:

Some evangelicals wish to broaden the political agenda beyond these issues to poverty, social justice, and the environment. Politics can never completely cure the ills of any of these, but the message Christians bring about salvation and redemption can.

He concludes with a warning to those too wrapped up in partisan political activity:

To paraphrase a verse familiar to most Christians, what shall it profit a [person] if he gains the White House, but loses his own soul?

Jim Rice is Editor of Sojourners magazine.



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squeaky

posted May 3, 2007 at 11:13 pm


Cal Thomas put into words the angst I had been feeling about trying to fit in with the Religious Right in the book he co-authored with Ed Dobson (Blinded by Might). I attribute this book to helping me realize no political party has a corner on Christianity–nor should it or can it. His points here are well-said.



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Don

posted May 3, 2007 at 11:33 pm


One of the best commentaries by Thomas that he’s written for a long while. Thanks for sharing it.



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Wolverine

posted May 4, 2007 at 12:12 am


I don’t think this should be taken as a repudiation of conservatism in general. But this is a marker of the decline of a particularly ham-handed Christian political activism that confused political conservatism with theological orthodoxy. In time I predict we will also see the decline of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, who, if you’ll forgive my being blunt, have long ago ceased being useful to either the church or conservatism. (And I might add, Sojo has paid way too much attention to these two.) As I see it James Dobson will need to move carefully — he still has some credibility but he’ll need to act judiciously to avoid getting sucked down by the undertow as Falwell and Robertson sink. I have mixed feelings about this. One one hand I remembered what evangelical Christianity was like before the eighties. This was the time of the “fundamentalist” church. It was insular, alienated from American society, and generally stupid. There was more than a whiff of racism in many corners of it I was ashamed to have to be associated with any of it. This may strike many as damning with faint praise but the era of the “Religious Right” was actually a step forward for many Christians, who quit griping about how the whole country was going to hell in a handbasket, left their pews, and actually engaged the larger society. Were their efforts effective? That’s debatable, but it would be a surprise if they didn’t make a lot of mistakes, many of them hadn’t been out in “the world” in nearly thirty years. On the other hand, I’ve seen a lot of otherwise intelligent Christians treat politics as if it were just another extension of theology and — much as I believe in conservatism — the two just aren’t the same. A policy person has to think very differently from a theologian and a political leader needs to think very differently from a preacher. Christianity is supposed to be eternal. Public policy is very contingent. Christianity is supposed to connect us to the spritiual realm. Public policy is very much about this world. Yes, religion has a lot to add to public policy, and public policy can sometimes enlighten spiritual meditations. Which is why there will always be a place for a Sojourners and why Christians have had so much influence at conservative institutions like National Review or the Heritage Foundation. But there are a lot of people — including some fairly bright people — who just aren’t able to switch mental gears quickly enough to move smoothly between the very different mindsets of religion and politics. (I like to think that I’m one of those who can — and concede that I may sound incredibly arrogant when I say that.) What I would like to see over time is the rise of Christian think-tanks, and Christian intellectuals who can address public policy questions in a Christian way but who are seen as primarily as experts in political matters, and only secondarily as theologians. One happy benefit of this would be that the church itself would gain what might be called “plausible deniability” in political disputes — the church would generally avoid political disputes and her reputation would be undamaged by political controversies. Individual believers would pursue political activism as part of their vocations. But for that to happen, both the Christian Left and the Christian Right will need to stand down and allow the Church to transcend politics. I’m not sure that the Christian Left is ready to do that. Hopefully you will be ready to take that step before too long though. After all, we conservatives supposedly ran the church for all these years and it didn’t get us to Nirvana. I doubt it will work out all that better for you. Wolverine



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Don

posted May 4, 2007 at 1:08 am


Wolverine: Very thoughtful discussion here. I think we agree this time, and I have nothing worth adding to it. Thanks!



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Sarasotakid

posted May 4, 2007 at 2:08 am


Wolverine, Ditto on what Don said.



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Mike Hayes

posted May 4, 2007 at 2:30 am


I live in the midwest. I caution against assuming that Dobsen, Falwell, Robertson and others like them are on the wane… Based on what I hear, I think not… I wonder what I would hear were I living in the south… No offense meant…



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Don

posted May 4, 2007 at 2:59 am


Mike: I live in central Ohio–home of the Rev. Russell Johnson and his Patriot Pastors, and of Pastor Rod Parsley and his Reformation Ohio and Center for Moral Clarity. You may remember these groups from the 2004 election. No, they’re still around and quite as active as ever. But I don’t think Thomas believes that the influence of the conservative Christians will diminish overnight, or even any time soon. Rather, I think he’s saying they’re influence has begun to peak, and will begin declining with time. After all, it took 1/4 century or more for them to come to this point; it will probably be at least that long before they really do fade into the sunset. Peace,



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Dawn Weaks

posted May 4, 2007 at 4:38 am


Just curious where Sojourner’s comments are on the National Day of Prayer? Surely this is a day where we could put forth a prayer we COULD all pray as Christians for this nation- for access to good jobs, health care, and education for all–



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canuckelhead

posted May 4, 2007 at 5:29 am


“Just curious where Sojourner’s comments are on the National Day of Prayer? Surely this is a day where we could put forth a prayer we COULD all pray as Christians for this nation- for access to good jobs, health care, and education for all–” Dawn Weaks | Homepage | 05.03.07 – 10:43 pm | #I don’t know anything about your National Day of Prayer but the Global Day of Prayer is May 27, Pentecost Sunday.



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Doug

posted May 4, 2007 at 6:15 am


Dawn, We live in America. Everybody already has acces to good jobs, health care and education. What exactly did you mean by praying for that? I hope you are not advacating for socialized medicine or for the govt. to find people a job are you? As for education look at how the govt. has screwed that up? Do not forget the teachers union part in our failing education system either. Bottom line is liberals hold the individual responsible for nothing but collectivly responsible for everything.



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Sarasotakid

posted May 4, 2007 at 12:08 pm


We live in America. Everybody already has acces to good jobs, health care and education. Doug I would agree with you that the American economy does a good job of providing opportunities for people. But to make the blanket statement that everybody has access to good jobs, health care and education in this country, is clearly not true. Look around at reality. An African American child in the inner city of Newark, NJ does NOT have the same opportunities as a white kid in Montvale, NJ. Instead of disparaging liberals for recognizing this reality, maybe you could seek to understand this reality and work together with liberals to find a solution to the problem.



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Donny

posted May 4, 2007 at 3:27 pm


What is having an impact on the Religious Right,” is the corruption of young people by the evil power of Liberal/Progressive/Humanist ideology. Shattered lives will “come out” of these modern day Greco-Roman groups like they did in Nero’s and Hadrian’s day. In Sodom a few thousand years ago, King Bera was a Progressive-style leader of the exact same kinds of people that make up Liberal political organizations to this day. The western world looks just like Sodom of old. The word of God still went on.This Leftist power rise, was prophesied to happen. (The Great falling away.) Now we have the most evil of things using the word Christian in organizations promoting things that Jesus and His apostles preached against. – Wolves in sheep’s clothing, false teachers giving itching ears what they want to hear. – Known as Progressive ideologically, they only are Molech and Greco/Roman deity worshippers come back to the forefront. And the western world embracing Molech worship (Progessive ideology) are living in a world of such moral decay that they literally have laws being created to silence any voice to stop it. What evil is and does. The Democrats passed HR 1592 yesterday to silence any attempts of Christians to stop the hedonism, perversions and abominations so promoted by Progressive political and social aims. “For example.” Once the slaughter of unborn children was championed by Liberal-Progressives (Secularists) as an acceptable form of murder for sexual convenience, the die was cast for the Satanic powers to once again re-build Sodom and Gomorrah within the framework of distorting civil rights. (How is murder a civil right?) Notice the peoples attacked for not falling in line with Progressive idol worship (Molech worship) are mostly “Christians” that believe as Christ Jesus and His apostles taught. Maybe Progresives should just be called Romans? Neo-Romans? Nerodians? Though the Church is not in any danger of disappearing, political power-mongers want it to seem so. Notice that Jim Wallis always has this story popping up. As evil people within old movements called new names (like Humanism and Progressiveism today), try to wipe out Christians, the only thing that will happen, is that the women and children (the broken family) suffering under the heels of Liberal actions, will once again cry out to God, (even if Democrats further outlaw this), with a prayer that will reach even through the Darwinians’ attempts to wash it away. The Religious Right is a neologism created by todays political climate. At the beginning of the Church, they were first called “Christians” in Antioch. The Religious Left” are just the same old hedonists we see throughout history. And the same kinds of people that hated “Christians” then and for the same reasons, hate them now. Demons don’t know care what year it is. All of the tricks and cunning ploys of people like Jim Wallis are not going to end the authentic Church started by God in the flesh. (Sorry Spong, Wallis, take your Progressive circus on the road to Europe) Progressives may silence the Church for a short under “hate crimes and civil rights legislation,” but, that was the case when Peter and Paul walked into the Roman Empire and told them that same-sex sex and hedonism were wrong and preached the Gospel and that Christ Jesus was God in the flesh. Same enemies now as then, go after the Christians. NOTE: You can read about the history of what is now called “The Religious Right” in the compiliation of letters known as The New Testament. The anti-Jesus politics of their day called them “Christians” and hated them too, for their stand against sexual sins ( homosexuality, adultery, divorce and the main reason for abortions “sexual freedom) and the Roman era Liberals and Progressives “like” groups, tried with all of their might to end the Christian influence in the world. What Nero and his Roman Liberals and Progressives failed to do 2000-years ago, the Democrats and their Progresives will fail at today. The only thing that will change in the Left’s attempt to outlaw the Christian witness, is the rise of another neologism for the authentic Church to wear. What we now know as “The Religious Right” will just go on preaching the Gospel of the faith delivered only once to the saints, no matter what little label is applied over the truth that cannot be hidden.



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted May 4, 2007 at 3:58 pm


Wolverine, “Sojo has paid way too much attention to these two” (Robertson and Falsewell) So has Aerica in general. “James Dobson will need to move carefully — he still has some credibility” He DOES??? “religion has a lot to add to public policy” WHICH religion? Perhaps you ment spirituality. I sure hope so, ‘cuz I sure as heck don’t want SOME religions making (or even contributing to) public policy because of the despicable, exclusionary, bigoted, prejudiced ideologies they uphold. “One happy benefit of this would be that the church itself would gain …” When will people on the ‘right’ realize that there is NO ‘one’ Church (as in “THE Church”). Religions DIFFER. The ramifications of your suggestion is that CERTAIN Churches would gain …”, much to the detriment of others. There shall be NO establishment of religion…! I think even YOU realize this, when you say, “But for that to happen, both the Christian Left and the Christian Right will need to stand down and allow the Church to transcend politics.” Transcend politics? How about getting the heck OUT of politics? You’re also pretty selective when you type: “I’m not sure that the Christian Left is ready to do that.” Why only the left? The ‘right” is observably not only not ready to do that, they are unwilling to do that. Get your religion out of MY life please.



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted May 4, 2007 at 4:01 pm


“Just curious where Sojourner’s comments are on the National Day of Prayer?” Which Church’s prayers should we offer up? Why not have a National Day of Secularism instead? Or better yet, a National YEAR, or National Decade, or National Century of Secularism – to honour the Constitution?



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted May 4, 2007 at 4:03 pm


Doug, “We live in America. Everybody already has access to good jobs, health care and education.” BWAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!! Good one, Doug.



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moderatelad

posted May 4, 2007 at 4:11 pm


OK – as a conservative white evangelical male, yes I have been conserned about abortion, gay activitism etc. But – truth be told, my little evangelical church has spent more time and money both here and in other countries to help imporve education – health care – hunger and poverty. Maybe the reason why some in the conservative area speak a lot about these issues is that they are the ones that are being given all the press. Frankly – if the homeless had to depend upon the gay organizations in my community and not the churches – they would be in a world of hurt as most of them seem to be very selfserving. I find it so interesting that Wallis and Sojo seem to be lying in wait for the demise of the Robertsons, Kennedys, Grahams and Dobsons of the Christian world. There are areas that I believe they could work independantly on the issues and a few they might be able to coordinate their efforts, but when conservatives are viewed by many like they are the enemy – guess that is not going to happen. (God must weep) One thing that is interesting is that Liberty University has seen growth like very few institutions of higher learning have experienced in the last 25 years. Not sure that I would say that we are wittnessing the demise of the Christian Right. (there are several other schools that are growning and look at the growth of home schooler.) Wallis and Fawell – both polarizing personalities. I have read where Wallis has taken time to blast Fawell and fellow brother in the Lord. (I believe they are both believers) But I can not find where Fawell has blasted Wallis. (if Jerry has – he would be wrong to do so) Point out your differences – fine. But to couch your verbage so to lead the reader that you are looking forward to their demise – wrong Later – .



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jesse

posted May 4, 2007 at 4:25 pm


Moderatelad and Wolverine, Good comments, but I’d also argue that Wallis and Sojo don’t want Robertson and Falwell to go away. Even though they have very little influence these days (according to polls, most evangelicals have negative views of both), whenever these two say something outrageous (as they do every few months or so) it gives Wallis an opportunity to appear as the reasonable alternative, even though he is basically a liberal democrat and there are many other places along the ideological spectrum where Christians could fall.I think it’s clear that Sojo’s focus on Robertson and Falwell has nothing to do with providing sound criticism of of them or their statements (which generally require no criticism, given their outrageousness). It has everything to do with storing up support for their movement. The disingenuousness is obvious to me.



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kevin s.

posted May 4, 2007 at 4:43 pm


“One happy benefit of this would be that the church itself would gain what might be called “plausible deniability” in political disputes — the church would generally avoid political disputes and her reputation would be undamaged by political controversies. Individual believers would pursue political activism as part of their vocations.” I think this should be a stated goal. Politics from the pulpit is pretty nauseating, and I am glad my church does not partake.



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moderatelad

posted May 4, 2007 at 4:55 pm


jesse | 05.04.07 – 10:30 am | #I as a conservative – did not support the ‘moral majority’ back in the day. I did not speak against them but did not speak for them. I believe that God would deal with them as He saw fit to do so. Fawell is a polarizing personality and I tend to shy away from him. (so is Wallis…)We have three families in our church that came to faith from watching PTL (Tammy to be specific) But they have grown in their faith and understand what God throught His Son requires of us. Now – should I tell them how wonderful it is that they now understand what a fraud that make-up madam is…NO WAY. You point out the truth and the future – not so much the past or the flaws. Have a great weekend! .



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squeaky

posted May 4, 2007 at 5:03 pm


Wolverine, Great post–just a few comments: “What I would like to see over time is the rise of Christian think-tanks, and Christian intellectuals who can address public policy questions in a Christian way but who are seen as primarily as experts in political matters, and only secondarily as theologians.” I’d like to see that too, especially if you could get voices from across the Christian and political spectrum who are open minded and willing to think about opposing perspectives. We have much to add to each other, but so often strict political ideologies and pride get in the way. I’d love to see something on the lines of a task force that looks at important issues from all sides. We all have our pet solutions, and it takes those who disagree with us to show us the pitfalls in those solutions. “One happy benefit of this would be that the church itself would gain what might be called “plausible deniability” in political disputes — the church would generally avoid political disputes and her reputation would be undamaged by political controversies. Individual believers would pursue political activism as part of their vocations.” I think what you are saying here is basically that the church needs to get out of politics, freeing up believers to pursue the political activism that is in their passions. I couldn’t agree with you more. “I’m not sure that the Christian Left is ready to do that.” I don’t think the Christian Right is ready to do it, either. The Left is pretty new to the scene, at least in terms of enjoying any political power, so I’m not sure how quickly the Left would stand down, either. I agree that both need to stand down, though, and find non-political solutions to the problems this world faces. Think if the church had invested all that time and effort in action rather than political activism, the changes we could already see in this nation. “Hopefully you will be ready to take that step before too long though. After all, we conservatives supposedly ran the church for all these years and it didn’t get us to Nirvana. I doubt it will work out all that better for you.” You are right, and if for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, I am not sure this will be a fast process, either. The sooner we can set politics aside and start working together, the better.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 4, 2007 at 5:13 pm


But I can not find where Falwell has blasted Wallis. During the 2004 general election campaign, Falwell referred to Wallis as “as evangelical as an oak tree,” so, in essence, Falwell was the one who started it. But he’s not the only conservative who blasted Wallis — World magazine panned “God’s Politics” because of its “non-conservative agenda,” never mind that, for example, Wallis was as upset with both that infamous Super Bowl halftime show and “Temptation Island” as anyone. That said, I think the ideological right needs to reach out to everyone else; it’s been my experience that the right wants to hold onto its authority while appearing to want to address social issues. Not everyone who disagrees with conservatives is a “liberal,” in this context usually a slur. In fact, recently I received a book in which Woodrow Wilson was quoted as wanting an advisor of “the other political party” — “to keep me from going blind.”



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squeaky

posted May 4, 2007 at 5:21 pm


“as evangelical as an oak tree”–But wait, if by oak tree Falwell was referring to a metaphorical oak tree whose roots run deep in the Word of God and whose branches and leaves provide protection for all that are under it… One can only wish, I suppose… Now he could have also said “as Evangelical as a Rock…” no, wait…an Eagle…umm…anchor?



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 4, 2007 at 5:24 pm


But wait, if by oak tree Falwell was referring to a metaphorical oak tree whose roots run deep in the Word of God and whose branches and leaves provide protection for all that are under it… You wish … and so do I! :-)



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Wolverine

posted May 4, 2007 at 5:43 pm


Curiouser: Well, obviously James Dobson doesn’t have any credibility with you, but in the larger political realm he is seens as someone who has a decent grassroots organization and a measure of political savvy. Certainly he has made mistakes — who hasn’t? — but he’s nowhere near as gaffe prone as Robertson and doesn’t carry the baggage of a Falwell. All of which means he has some credibility. As for getting my religion out of my life: you apparently do happen to respect “spirituality”, but what is religion other than the natural result of people getting together to share notes from their spiritual journeys? Yes, organized religions have done awful things, but that’s our fault, not God’s, and the raw stuff of both “Religion” and “Spirituality” is the same thing: mankind’s search for the divine. The point is, if there’s anything of value to your spirituality, and you share that spirituality with anyone, your spirituality is liable to become part of a religion. And if your spirituality affects the way you conduct your life in any meaningful way, that’s an “ethic”. And since you’re interested in politics, that ethic of yours is liable to affect your politics as well So I hope you don’t mind if I ask if you’d be willing to keep your spirituality out of my life too. Wolverine



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James

posted May 4, 2007 at 6:09 pm


It seems to me that the religious right “won”, in a sense: what has this administration been if not the election of a conservative Christian to the presidency, who then appointed people who share a similar religious and ethical perspective as advisors, judges and in other influential positions? They got what they were striving for. The result has been extremely unpopular, and Bush’s ratings suggest that many even on the right must be disappointed. Is it too much to hope for that perhaps next time people with strong religious convictions will vote for a candidate not based on their metaphysical and theological perspective, but based on their competency? http://blue.butler.edu/~jfmcgrat/blog/



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squeaky

posted May 4, 2007 at 6:29 pm


Doug writes: “We live in America. Everybody already has acces to good jobs, health care and education. What exactly did you mean by praying for that? I hope you are not advacating for socialized medicine or for the govt. to find people a job are you? As for education look at how the govt. has screwed that up? Do not forget the teachers union part in our failing education system either.” As for how the government has screwed up education, I hope you are referring to No Child Left Behind, because that has royally screwed up education. And if the teacher’s union was as strong as you seem to believe, I would think they would have a much bigger voice on how education should happen in this nation. Instead you have beaurocrats who have no educational training telling us what to teach and how to teach it. As for everyone having access, etc…maybe that’s true, but what isn’t true is that everyone has opportunity. What is your social economic background? Have you ever wondered if you would have enough money to pay the rent or buy food? Have you ever lived in a desparately poor neighborhood? Are you speaking from experience? As for this,”Bottom line is liberals hold the individual responsible for nothing but collectivly responsible for everything.” This is, of course, an overgeneralization used, no doubt, to stop up your ears from listening to any solutions that Liberals might have to offer. On another note, we in this nation have this adherence to society built around individuals and the needs of the individual. This is a Western approach to society. Other approaches have been based more on taking a community approach, where every individual in the community is cared for by the community and in turn works to care for the community. We have moved so far away from that kind of society, we have elevated the status of the individual almost to god status, so the thought of collectively caring for all is not palatable if it affects our individual freedoms.



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Carl Copas

posted May 4, 2007 at 6:32 pm


Wolverine, very thoughtful reflections. So much work to be done; surely Christians of all political stripes can find common ground ministering to the sick and the down-and-out, and of course spreading the Good News that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Don, had missed you on here for a few days and glad to see you back.



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Payshun

posted May 4, 2007 at 6:37 pm


Wolverine, Questions- How is his spirituality in your life? What ethic from his life affects your? To my conservative brothers and sisters: Your conversation about Sojo is absolutely fascinating. You really think we (the religious left) have been hidden or that this new. Well minor correction we aren’t hidden or new. It’s just finally the other parts of us (mainly the white folks are stepping up for the first time since the middle of the 20’th century.)We have been here for the last century. We only got into politics to address the issues of injustice that were being ignored by most of society. Some of the religious left include Howard Thurman, MLK Jr, Coretta King, Philip Berryman, Marcella Althaus-Reid, James Hal Cone, and Uriel Molina. How is Wallis polarizing? James, They have won minor victories but again they have not really won everything they wanted. No ammendment to the constitution banning gay marriage… If anything it would seem that many of their sacred cows were ignored by this President.p



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moderatelad

posted May 4, 2007 at 6:58 pm


Rick Nowlin | 05.04.07 – 11:18 am | #Guess I will have to search a little deeper for these comments. But these are perty lame comparied to what has been said about conservatives on this site by those who write articles. Not sure that Fawell threw the first stone – he may have.Have a great weekend .



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Payshun

posted May 4, 2007 at 7:02 pm


Really what have people said about conservatives here that is so bad? They have never attacked them personally. They have only questioned their statements and talked about issues in evangelicalism. p



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nad2

posted May 4, 2007 at 7:07 pm


wolverine, i thought your comments were very thoughtful and were much appreciated. i am deeply torn about christianity & politics. i think it is a gross mis-statement when people say jesus was not political (even worse when ‘render unto caesar’ is used as justification), but that does not excuse legislating one particular tradition’s view (or worse yet – one strand of one tradition’s view) of the way of things into law. as followers of jesus, a much deeper conversation about our prophetic mission needs to take place & the church’s role in it. the church that spoke up for abolition & for civil rights was clearly political & surely we can affirm they collectively spoke the voice of god for their time. as the (ideally speaking) body of christ, the church needs to be out there mixing it up, but we need to be mxing it up w/ the politics of jesus, his radical, subversive vision -‘the kingdom of god,’ not the politics of modern christianity. john howard yoder’s book by that name ‘the politics of jesus’ is very provocative on this subject & i think would be a good primer for this discussion.



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Don

posted May 4, 2007 at 7:17 pm


Payshun: The Religious Left (If we must use this term; I hate these labels!) goes back a lot farther than your names! Just think of Henry Ward Beecher, Charles Finney, and other social-activist Christians of the 19th century, who worked on programs ranging from abolition of slavery to humane treatment of the mentally ill. And cross the ocean and meet William Wilberforce (I hope you saw “Amazing Grace”–go see it if not). And the Wesleys. They were ostracized by the Church of England for including the poor in their ministries. Social activism was part of the Methodist movement from the beginning. And don’t forget William Booth and the Salvation Army. The list is long and honorable, Donny’s diatribes notwithstanding. Peace,



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nad2

posted May 4, 2007 at 7:22 pm


religious left – jesus, james, john the baptist, amos, jeremiah, paul (the paul, all letters attributed to him aren’t his), the list could go on & on.



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Payshun

posted May 4, 2007 at 7:28 pm


Nads, You can’t forget Ezekiel. p



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squeaky

posted May 4, 2007 at 7:30 pm


nad2– “the politics of jesus, his radical, subversive vision -‘the kingdom of god,’ ” I agree with you, but the problem with Christianity and politics is that there is a wide range of opinions on what the above statement means, or how it is brought about. I think both the left and right are guilty of trying to establish God’s kingdom through political means. Maybe that shouldn’t be so, or maybe there is a way to do it, that I don’t know…



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Payshun

posted May 4, 2007 at 7:31 pm


Don, I have yet to see Amazing Grace. Into the Silence is the next movie on my list of things to see. It’s about these monks that dedicated their lives to pryaer. It looks absolutely fascinating. Anywho I agree sometimes I forget about some of my European forbears. I get so caught up in the revivalist sentiment of the 19’th century that it’s easy to forget the beauty that was coming out of Europe and America at that time. p



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 4, 2007 at 7:37 pm


Guess I will have to search a little deeper for these comments. But these are perty lame comparied to what has been said about conservatives on this site by those who write articles. Not sure that Falwell threw the first stone – he may have. I suggest you do check it out — and in fact many conservative publications, especially in the 1980s, were unrelentingly scornful of liberals; I personally was denounced as a “socialist” and “hedonist” in a local Christian publication for endorsing Walter Mondale for president in 1984, and Jimmy Swaggart — there’s a name from the past — once said that liberal politics bordered on Communism. (And in this context, a “liberal” was someone who disagreed with them.) That said, those commentaries I read then about liberals and liberalism were of the Ann Coulter variety (but, because they were almost exclusively in Christian publications, they didn’t have mass circulation). What you’re reading on this blog about criticism of conservatism is actually quite mild compared to that.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 4, 2007 at 7:44 pm


Don — And in your list, don’t forget the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who, BTW, Ronald Reagan despised.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 4, 2007 at 7:46 pm


Oops — I didn’t read Payshun’s post.



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nad2

posted May 4, 2007 at 7:55 pm


p, i just bought ‘into great silence’ off amazon.ca, it is not available in the US yet but you can get it from amazon canada & they will ship it to you, have not gotten to watch it yet but i am pumped to have it.



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nad2

posted May 4, 2007 at 8:02 pm


squeaky, i share your concerns deeply, but it is difficult to reconcile being a follower of jesus (or a band of followers of jesus) & who he was when he was here w/ sitting on the sidelines on matters of equality, justice, & especially yes – religious legitimization of inequality & injustice. that is god’s politics at its finest – speaking up about it is what got jesus killed, & the difficult thing is he calls us to follow him.



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kevin s.

posted May 4, 2007 at 8:07 pm


“Your conversation about Sojo is absolutely fascinating. You really think we (the religious left) have been hidden or that this new.” I don’t think it is new. I think it is the same-old, same-old. Who said they thought it was new? “who then appointed people who share a similar religious and ethical perspective as advisors, judges and in other influential positions? They got what they were striving for. The result has been extremely unpopular, and Bush’s ratings suggest that many even on the right must be disappointed.” I think the war in Iraq, coupled with lack of fiscal discipline, resulted in the poor numbers. That said, many judges and other influential advisors (e.g. John Roberts and Condoleeza Rice) are well-regarded.



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nad2

posted May 4, 2007 at 8:12 pm


squeaky, if we actually read the texts & have a solid grasp on their context & their meaning within their context, i think we’ll be more than fine. the problem is (as you have rightly put it), that doesn’t happen.



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kevin s.

posted May 4, 2007 at 8:15 pm


“religious left – jesus, james, john the baptist, amos, jeremiah, paul (the paul, all letters attributed to him aren’t his), the list could go on & on.” This carries with it the presumption that the political left has all answers to poverty, peace and prosperity. Simply calling out these names does nothing to contribute to the idea that prominent figures of the scripture were politically liberal. I also disagree the rendering unto Caesar had nothing to do with the question of political advocacy, but that is an old discussion which probably doesn’t need to be regurgitated parenthetically, eh?



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nad2

posted May 4, 2007 at 8:24 pm


(kevin i don’t recall much discussion of ‘render unto caesar,’ more like a detailed accounting of what it most probably means in context w/ you replying ‘i disagree’)



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 4, 2007 at 8:25 pm


I don’t think it is new. I think it is the same-old, same-old. Who said they thought it was new? Well, the right is comparatively new, as only in the last few decades — and only in America — has religion been attached to the status quo on such an overt level. That said, many judges and other influential advisors (e.g. John Roberts and Condoleeza Rice) are well-regarded. That’s what you think. Indeed, Rice was considered an abject failure at the National Security Agency, and Roberts hasn’t been on the Supreme Court long enough to make that determination. Simply calling out these names does nothing to contribute to the idea that prominent figures of the scripture were politically liberal. By your standard they might be, because they certainly would have criticized the conservatives!



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squeaky

posted May 4, 2007 at 8:30 pm


nad2, “if we actually read the texts & have a solid grasp on their context & their meaning within their context, i think we’ll be more than fine. the problem is (as you have rightly put it), that doesn’t happen.” I do think this is true. I also think, that we can easily focus on one aspect of the morality of the Bible while forgetting about others. Some only think of sexual immorality as sin while forgetting it is also immoral not to care for the poor. Others do just the opposite. I think Jesus cared about both, and we can’t pick and choose what we will care about morally. And you are right–it is an inattentiveness to the whole Word that brings about this polarity.



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Debbie Stewart

posted May 4, 2007 at 9:57 pm


I would urge all of you to follow the link provided and read the entire essay by Cal Thomas. He makes some excellent points. I really appreciate the tone that he always seems to approach things like this with—so much of the discussion often degenerates to nothing more than labels and name calling. Thomas avoids that and offers much to consider. Debbie



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kevin s.

posted May 4, 2007 at 10:22 pm


“(kevin i don’t recall much discussion of ‘render unto caesar,’ more like a detailed accounting of what it most probably means in context w/ you replying ‘i disagree’)” Um… No. I conceded that your exegesis was largely correct, but that the passage nonetheless ran counter to the idea that Jesus proposed active resistance to Roman Authority, or that this idea featured prominently in his ministry. Jesus did not demonstrate an interest in changing the political makeup of the Roman Empire, and certainly was not put to death for having done so (as you suggested). If he did so demonstrate, it is absurd that he would utter the phrase “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s”. This is the explanation you have helpfully condensed to “I disagree with you”.



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Wolverine

posted May 4, 2007 at 10:32 pm


nad2 wrote: religious left – jesus, james, john the baptist, amos, jeremiah, paul (the paul, all letters attributed to him aren’t his), the list could go on & on. I’m sorry, this just doesn’t work. These people all lived in a very different society with different laws and customs and very different politics. I’m not saying these people are conservatives, I just don’t think they fit neatly anywhere into our political categories. Arguing whether John the Baptist is liberal or conservative makes about as much sense as arguing whether LeBron James should bat leadoff or cleanup — we’ve moved on to a totally different game. Wolverine



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Doug7504

posted May 4, 2007 at 10:34 pm


Too many labels, too much finger-pointing, getting too hung up on “liberal” “progressive” or “conservative.” Wolverine makes a good point-pray for the rise of Christian think-tanks without regard to a given entrenched political “position”, rather examining issues from the totality of Christian life. It seems THAT is what might get us working together. Let’s call each other brothers and sisters in Christ, leave it to that, and get on with His work. Peace!



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Doug

posted May 4, 2007 at 11:50 pm


Squeaky, By your argument you made my point. You do not hold the individual responsoble for anything. When you say that people in America do not have the same options you could not be more wrong. A poor person in harlem has every much a change to succed as a rich kid from the suburbs. All it takes it is hard work and dedication. By making that blanket statement you are already making it easier for them to fail. Life is not handed to you it is what you make of it. One last thing by your argument it would seem if I was born into a christian family I would have an easier chance of getting into heaven then if I was not. The bible makes it clear that is not the case. I have to run but I will right more later.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 4, 2007 at 11:58 pm


Too many labels, too much finger-pointing, getting too hung up on “liberal” “progressive” or “conservative.” Wolverine makes a good point-pray for the rise of Christian think-tanks without regard to a given entrenched political “position”, rather examining issues from the totality of Christian life. It seems THAT is what might get us working together. Everyone, in theory, is all for that, but befor that can happen the differences in outlook must be addressed, accepted and accounted for, otherwise nothing will get done. I see this pattern mostly in the black/white divide, especially since it’s being addressed in my church. Everyone talks about it, but few take the hard steps of recociliation to say, “You might be right and I might be wrong about that.” I’ve heard at least one person on this blog say, esentially, “Yes, I want reconciliation but I don’t want to change my pet prejudices.” You just can’t have it both ways. Now, one reality that needs to be accepted along the ideological divide is that, at least among us who call ourselves evangelicals, conservatism is clearly dominant. There’s just no way around that — in addition to churches, most parachurch and media ministries, as well as social and political action groups, tends to the right. Back especially in the 1980s there was a certain “political correctness” that a born-again believer in Jesus Christ was supposed to maintain and if you didn’t — well, your very salvation was in question. That said, it behooves the conservatives who are here to listen to what we “liberals” are saying, because in many cases they truly do not know or understand for lack of exposure, and not to be so oversensitive when we disagree. On the other hand, for the most we do understand the conservative view and usually have good reasons not to accept it as necessarily valid.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 5, 2007 at 12:02 am


When you say that people in America do not have the same options you could not be more wrong. A poor person in harlem has every much a change to succed as a rich kid from the suburbs. All it takes it is hard work and dedication. I am proof positive that, frankly, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I came from a middle-class, highly-educated black family, but I see today that there were opportunities that were denied me simply because I didn’t live in the right neighborhood (and thus didn’t have the necessary “connections”). And since my career as a reporter has taken me to numerous place, I see the difference between such areas far more clearly.



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squeaky

posted May 5, 2007 at 12:22 am


Doug, I am not saying the individual isn’t responsible for anything. However, it is difficult for me to understand how you think someone raised in impoverished means has the same opportunities as someone from a wealthy or even a middle class family. If you had a child, where would you rather that child attend school–in a rich neighborhood or in a very poor neighborhood? And why? “All it takes is hard work and dedication.” And the amount of hard work and dedication and the obstacles that an impoverished child needs to overcome are far greater than those faced by a child from a wealthy family. The education each receive are not even close to equitable both in terms of resources and attracting the best teachers. Yes, individuals need to be responsible, but those who have no idea or have never experienced the obstacles and disparity in opportunity of those from impoverished means need to recognize the opportunities they have enjoyed and stop saying “all it takes is hard work and dedication.” That is not much better than saying “poor people are poor because they are lazy.” These prescriptions are simplistic and judgemental and do nothing to overcome the problem of poverty in our nation. We are the richest country on Earth. Why are there still people who live below the poverty line?



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HASH(0x1179cd6c)

posted May 5, 2007 at 12:39 am


On the other hand, for the most we do understand the conservative view…. No, you just think you do.



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Kristi

posted May 5, 2007 at 1:09 am


Hopefully I’m not beating a dead horse here, but when Jesus talked about “rendering unto Caesar’s what is Caesar’s” he was talking about money not our personal ethics. So he definitely did not mean that if we see the government doing something that is unjust that we should just ignore it and not stand up for what is right. In fact, we are called to stand for justice. So I do believe that it is our responsibility as Christians to question our governments policies that are not in line with Jesus’ ethics. Of course, there are many different beliefs about just what those ethics are, but to say that Jesus’ did not want us to stand up to the government is, I believe, an incorrect statement. Two other observations: Rick, I hear you about the fact that a certain political correctness was required in the 80’s era evangelical churches or your salvation was in question, but I have news for you—in many areas it is still the same! There are many people in my church that I am CERTAIN that I could not share my political and social viewpoints with, as is the case for many (to use a label) “progressive” Christians—it makes me very sad. And I agree with you Squeaky. Unless you have truly lived in an impoverished environment in all its aspects, you have no right to judge those who have not been able to escape it.



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canucklehead

posted May 5, 2007 at 1:41 am


“as evangelical as an oak tree”–But wait, if by oak tree Falwell was referring to a metaphorical oak tree whose roots run deep in the Word of God and whose branches and leaves provide protection for all that are under it… One can only wish, I suppose… Now he could have also said “as Evangelical as a Rock…” no, wait…an Eagle…umm…anchor? squeaky | 05.04.07 – 11:26 am | #Squeaky, archaeological evidence just in indicates that your take is in fact what Falwell DID mean



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kevin s.

posted May 5, 2007 at 1:55 am


“That said, it behooves the conservatives who are here to listen to what we “liberals” are saying, because in many cases they truly do not know or understand for lack of exposure,” Um, I think I was pretty well exposed to it in college. Pomona isn’t exactly known for its rampant conservatism.



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kevin s.

posted May 5, 2007 at 1:58 am


“Of course, there are many different beliefs about just what those ethics are, but to say that Jesus’ did not want us to stand up to the government is, I believe, an incorrect statement.” Depends on what you mean by standing up to government. At any rate, I obviously have no qualms with Christians being politically active. However, one who died for standing up to the Roman empire (which is not why Christ was killed) would not say “render unto Caesar…” Which was my point.



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Hali

posted May 5, 2007 at 2:16 am


Donny claims: “In Sodom a few thousand years ago, King Bera was a Progressive-style leader of the exact same kinds of people that make up Liberal political organizations to this day.” The Bible explains: “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.” These are not Progressive values at all. But I agree with Donny that the industrialized world (he said Western, but geographically it’s more complicated than that) is much too like the ancient description of Sodom.



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Don

posted May 5, 2007 at 3:00 am


Payshun: “Into the Silence”–I’m going to check it out. Thanks!



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Doug

posted May 5, 2007 at 3:23 am


Squeaky, To others who disagree with me are you proposing we redistribute wealth as most all liberals do? The fact is it does not matter how poor or rich a country is when individuals have no desire to work and think that that they are entitled to everything that country will eventually be no more. Sadly with the liberals trying to take away individual responsibility that is where this great country is headed. Let us look at this from a christian perspective shall we. Jesus gives each one of us a choice to make. Because we are sinners we can accept his free gift of salvation by repenting of our sins and then making him Lord of our lives. If we choose to repent and make him Lord of our lives then we are saved. If we don’t then we are not. Pretty simple. Why then it is so hard for people to understandf that in this country we have many choices regardless of where or how we grew up. All you have to do is chhose to work hard and set goals to get there. I do understand that there are unforseen circumstances that can happen but for the most part people in this country are poor because of the choices they made not because of where they grew up or the color of their skin. For liberals it is all about intention not about results. In america we are so spoiled we do not realize hopw good we have it. Heck even the poor here are not really poor. You want poor go to any other country. Now I do think that you and I help the poor but only as God leadsus. Just by handing people money will not solve the problem which is why I have a problem with govt. redistributing wealth to poor people. If what you are saying is true then where I am born determines my postion in my life then why try to become anything better because I am already going to failure. Why is this concept so hard for people to understand? Stop blaming other people and take responsibilty for your actions. Yes Jesus forgives but he still makes you live with consequences. Look at King David.



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Don

posted May 5, 2007 at 4:24 am


Where’s Neuro-nurse to respond to Doug’s mis-characterizations of the poor?



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 5, 2007 at 4:27 am


No, you just think you do. I used to devour conservative publications and media, plus most of my associates were flaming conservatives. Yeah, I DO understand, and it’s because I do understand it that I disagree with it. But that kind of attitude is part of the problem I’m describing. Deep down, you still want everyone to agree with you uncritically on every issue and we just can’t do that, nor will we do so.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 5, 2007 at 4:29 am


Um, I think I was pretty well exposed to it in college. Pomona isn’t exactly known for its rampant conservatism. Were these evangelical Christians you interacted with? Because if they weren’t true Christian believers, that’s neither her nor there.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 5, 2007 at 4:35 am


The fact is it does not matter how poor or rich a country is when individuals have no desire to work and think that that they are entitled to everything that country will eventually be no more. That’s not what we’re talking about. The truth is that almost every person wants work — but good-paying work that allows them to pay their bills, send kids to school and perhaps even buy a house. The problem is that there are social constructs that keep people from attaining their goals, whether educational, vocational or whatever. Though I came from a solidly middle-class family that to this day values education, I eventually learned that certain doors were closed to me simply because I didn’t know the right people or run in the right social circles. This is precisely the problem many African-Americans have — and it has nothing to do with work habits or education.



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Kristi

posted May 5, 2007 at 5:17 am


Doug: I do believe that Jesus said that we should give away all that we have and follow him—that those who have the most will have the most trouble entering the kingdom of heaven. So maybe those who have the most are the one’s that are actually missing the point? Secondly, no one is saying to just hand the poor money, however we are saying that equitable opportunities are in order—it is a FACT that this is not the case in impoverished areas. Thirdly, we are also not saying that you should not try to rise above your circumstances, what we are saying is that it is much more difficult than those who are in more equitable circumstances could possibly imagine, and to state basically that these people deserve to suffer, is way off the mark. People doing a lot more sinning have a lot more money than the poor, so saying that these people are some how living with the consequences of their bad choices IN GOD’S ESTIMATION is entirely false.



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kevin s.

posted May 5, 2007 at 7:26 am


“Were these evangelical Christians you interacted with? Because if they weren’t true Christian believers, that’s neither her nor there.” Inter-Varsity was active on our campus, but you could count the number of conservatives on one finger.



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HASH(0x117ad3ac)

posted May 5, 2007 at 7:46 am


why do you celestial wizardry types even care about what jesus said anyway – it’s all about the magic of the manger & anselm’s good friday & the physical easter, right? belief in that is all that matters so why the concern for what jesus said while he was here? i say this because i think it has passed many of you right by. let the lefties have what jesus said, you could care less, heaven & hell (what it is all about really, right?) you have taken care of apart from jesus’ ministry.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 5, 2007 at 2:00 pm


why do you celestial wizardry types even care about what jesus said anyway – it’s all about the magic of the manger & anselm’s good friday & the physical easter, right? belief in that is all that matters so why the concern for what jesus said while he was here? i say this because i think it has passed many of you right by. let the lefties have what jesus said, you could care less, heaven & hell (what it is all about really, right?) you have taken care of apart from jesus’ ministry. Wrong, wrong, wrong. When Jesus was talking to Nicodemus, He said that “unless you be born from above you will not see the Kingdom of God.” But He was not at all talking about heaven (from the context of the conversation, that should be clear) — He was referring to what God was doing on this earth at that time. And besides, if the afterlife were the only issue we wouldn’t need the rest of the Bible, wouldn’t we?



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 5, 2007 at 2:03 pm


Inter-Varsity was active on our campus, but you could count the number of conservatives on one finger. Well, IV isn’t known for its ideology anyway. Besides, I’m sure they weren’t hard-core liberals either — which is my point.



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moderatelad

posted May 5, 2007 at 3:27 pm


OK – I said before and I will say it now. It is not that the evangelicals are only focused on gay marriage, abortion, etc. But it is what the SP’s of the world are pushing so it gets the most press. If you would look at my little church budget – you will not see where we are sending money to those organization that are in the public eye dealing with those issues. We are sending it to educated people in other countries, help them develope food programs, etc. DGIH – I wish the authors and many who post on this site would understand that we are not just 2 issue – single facet people. We are believers that for the most part have a world view. Church historically were very conserned and went to the aid of many countries and the people that lived there before the developement of the para-church organization.And yes – the poor will always be with us. But most churches did not use that as an excuse to not do anything. The sick will always be with us – church built hospitals. They built schools – etc.later – .



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Unsympathetic reader

posted May 5, 2007 at 6:14 pm


moderatelad: “Frankly – if the homeless had to depend upon the gay organizations in my community and not the churches – they would be in a world of hurt as most of them seem to be very selfserving.” It’s like expecting the local rod & gun club to take over helping the homeless. Different charters and different interests. This is comparing apples to oranges.But we can note that there are gay-welcoming churches that certainly help the homeless and not in a cynical, self-serving manner. For example, Glide Memorial church in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district is quite active. If anyone happens to visit San Francisco on a Sunday, I’d encourage you to drop in.



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squeaky

posted May 5, 2007 at 7:10 pm


Doug– It is so easy to judge, I’m sure, when you have no apparent exposure to the poor or what it is like to be poor. You imply many myths and mischaracterizations in your post. 1. the poor are lazy 2. the poor don’t work. 3. the poor have it easy. 4. the poor have no obstacles to overcome that I myself wasn’t able to overcome. 5. no one helped me get to where I am, so no one else needs help at all. 6. the liberal response is to throw money at the problem and give the poor free money. Look, I wasn’t raised in a poor neighborhood, but I am not about to judge those who are. Yes, some are able to rise above the circumstances, and yes there are opportunities available. And I deeply admire those that are able to rise above–it speaks to a measure and strength of character and determination that I know I don’t possess. But there are also a whole host of challenges that make those opportunities pale in comparison. I think you think you got to where you are today without anyone’s help at all. I highly doubt that. All of us need and receive help, no matter what socio-economic station we are at in life. In my own case, I was raised in a two parent household where my mother was a stay at home Mom. I was raised in a quiet town in Minnesota where I could safely walk down the street without having to worry about drug pushers, drive by shootings or gang violence. I attended school in a state with one of the top educational systems in the country. I had teachers who encouraged my talent. I attended college but only with the help of massive student loans. I had professors and mentors who believed in me and encouraged me to attain my best. Without these pieces to my life’s puzzle, I would not have succeeded. I was not someone with a great deal of self confidence while growing up, and I can only imagine if I had had to deal with parents who were divorced, or if I had not felt safe in the neighborhood I had been raised in, or if my education had not adequately prepared me for college, or if I had fell in with friends who were a negative influence on my life, or if no one encouraged me, I would not be the same person I am today. Look back on your own life–can you really say you would be the same person you would be without the support you have received along the way? You need to acknowledge that support and those resources and be thankful for them. You have received blessings beyond compare, and it obligates you to not take them for granted and to give back to the community that supported you on your journey. You need to acknowledge that not everyone has the same opportunities you have and help to give them those opportunities (and if you think I am talking about only throwing money at the problem, you are oversimplifying the situation). You grossly oversimplify the situation when you say all it is is a matter of choice. As if a child has much choice if his father is gone and his mother is rarely home because she has to work three jobs to support the family. As if a child has much choice when the school she attends can’t afford adequate supplies or the best teachers. As if a child has a choice when she sees another child killed in a driveby shooting. As if a child has much choice when the neighborhood gang offers him a way out of poverty through drug money. You think this has no effect on a child’s psyche while growing up? Have you gone through as much? How do you have the right to judge? By the way–you didn’t answer my question. Where would you rather raise a child, in a wealthy neighborhood or an impoverished neighborhood and why.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 5, 2007 at 8:09 pm


It is not that the evangelicals are only focused on gay marriage, abortion, etc. But it is what the SP’s of the world are pushing so it gets the most press. The cultural issues, sorry to say, also raise the most money. In fact, Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson, both formerly with Moral Majority, did an interview with Jim Wallis back when their book “Blinded by Might” came out, and Thomas said, frankly, “If the gay rights issue is hot, you send out a [fund-raising] letter on gay rights. If gun control is hot, you send out a letter on gun control. [But if] the education issue isn’t particulary hot this month, you skip that — but never the poor.” When you’re so threatened and busy trying to keep whatever you have that you forget that even that is a gift from God, you get imbalanced and lose sight of God’s agenda. That’s why conservative religion’s marriage with conservative ideology is falling apart, which I knew would eventually happen. Churches historically were very concerned and went to the aid of many countries and the people that lived there before the developement of the para-church organization. That began to change around the time of the rise of the “religious right,” in large part because of its fund-raising abilities, and many of your evangelical churches fell into line. I don’t recall visiting a conservative church in the 1980s without seeing some sort of right-wing literature in it; I never set foot in those churches a second time.



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Doug

posted May 5, 2007 at 10:39 pm


I am in no way saying we should not care for the poor. I am only sayin it should be when and how God leads you. As far as saying they are lazy that is not the case either. Yes it is a fact you can work hard and not get ahead but again that is by the choices you make. People are not really poor in this country they just think they are. When did health care and all these things become an entitlement? Yes changes need to be made but govt. is not the answer. Look at Canada or Cuba and see how much in shambles there health care is in. Yes everybody has it but at what cost? I am not talking about monetary cost either here. Squeaky, It would not matter where my kids grow up if we had schhol choice but liberals opose that. Why is it that? I have my own thoughts but I will get into them later.



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Don

posted May 5, 2007 at 10:47 pm


Rick: “I don’t recall visiting a conservative church in the 1980s without seeing some sort of right-wing literature in it; I never set foot in those churches a second time.” If you had visited the church I attended at that time, you probably would have seen the same thing. I once was about as rigid a conservative as they come. Time and some bitter experiences taught me that inflexible ideology doesn’t really fit well with the Gospel message. Maybe that’s why I react when I read echoes of the kinds of attitudes I once held myself. If you were to visit the church I attend now, you might even be willing to come back! :-) Peace



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squeaky

posted May 5, 2007 at 10:50 pm


Yup–all it takes is making the right choices. The poor get what they deserve. That’s what you are saying, Doug. Tell me this–where did Jesus ever say such a thing? And your answer to my question completely avoided the issue. It wouldn’t matter where my kid grew up as long as I could choose where they go to school. So in other words, you wouldn’t choose to put them in the poor neighborhood school. That is exactly my point, by the way–the choice you think poor people have is simply not always even there.



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kevin s.

posted May 5, 2007 at 11:36 pm


“Yup–all it takes is making the right choices. The poor get what they deserve. That’s what you are saying, Doug. Tell me this–where did Jesus ever say such a thing? ” This isn’t what Doug said, either. Surely you can concede that some people are poor because they make bad choices. Proverbs certainly speaks to this.The poor with whom Jesus dealt were poor entirely due to oppression. Lepers, for example, were not allowed to work, make a living, etc…How we incorporate that into our role in helping the poor in America cannot be reduced to either “screw them, they deserve it.” Even for those who make bad decisions, there needs to be some room for grace. However, as it relates to policy, the question arises as to whether we can tolerate or, worse, incentivize, people making destructive choices. Jesus would have different words for a single mother who had children by four different men than he would for the leper. Would they be graceful words? Yes. But they would surely include the admonishment not to sin again, and we can only speculate as to whether they would be accompanied by a call for economic assistance.As Christians, we ought to be able to have this discussion without being accused of hating the poor. This is where Sojourner’s errs on the side of polemic.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 5, 2007 at 11:54 pm


Yes it is a fact you can work hard and not get ahead but again that is by the choices you make. Completely false, Doug — as I know from personal experience. If you had visited the church I attended at that time, you probably would have seen the same thing. I once was about as rigid a conservative as they come. Time and some bitter experiences taught me that inflexible ideology doesn’t really fit well with the Gospel message. I already knew that — and I suspect I would probably be welcome in those same churches today. I think my present assembly would have been among them (though the pastor has been known to slam Rush Limbaugh from time to time). However, as it relates to policy, the question arises as to whether we can tolerate or, worse, incentivize, people making destructive choices. That isn’t the issue, either. Basically, to do what’s really required the poor and the rich need to be in the same neighborhood so that the rich (and I use the term “rich” as relatively speaking) become hip to what’s really happening. As I keep saying and as my church knows — we deal with this on a consistent basis — there are actually institutional forces that keep people poor. Dealing with those issues of what the Scriptures call “justice.” You see, the reason people resent assistance to the poor, really, is because they feel they are entitled to their wealth, never mind that God allowed them to make it — they are actually ingrates. But it seems to me that they would help in the process with concrete economic policies and institutions. My church is starting a credit union in the neighborhood, in part to put those check-cashing places out of business and to provide an alternative to loan-sharking.



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Sarasotakid

posted May 5, 2007 at 11:56 pm


“Yup–all it takes is making the right choices. The poor get what they deserve. That’s what you are saying, Doug. Tell me this–where did Jesus ever say such a thing? ” Squeaky This isn’t what Doug said, either. Surely you can concede that some people are poor because they make bad choices. Proverbs certainly speaks to this. Kevin S. Well it certainly was the implication. Feel free to read Doug’s post with rose colored glasses but Squeaky did not misrepresent the meaning of the post, you did.Lest there be any doubt as to animus behind the writer (Doug), this will serve to clarify: “People are not really poor in this country they just think they are.” Doug Totally insensitive. There are poor people here. “As Christians, we ought to be able to have this discussion without being accused of hating the poor. This is where Sojourner’s errs on the side of polemic.” kevin s. In other words, I’m really angry now, so I’ll take it out on Soujourner’s even though what I am saying is untrue.



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squeaky

posted May 6, 2007 at 12:39 am


The other assumption in Doug’s posts are that the wealthy are only wealthy because of hard work and dedication. It’s one thing to work yourself up from a good status to a better status, and quite another to work yourself up from a horrible status to a good one. The challenges faced are completely different, so please stop pretending that they aren’t, especially if you don’t have personal experience with it. The thing is, Kevin, no one that Jesus helped deserved His help. Given that the Bible doesn’t give the complete life stories of every person He healed, I think it is better to assume not everyone was poor because of oppression. Some were, no doubt. But I’m sure others had simply made poor life choices. Jesus helped the woman caught in adultery, and surely she was living a lifestyle that brought her to that circumstance. The tax collectors were hated for the choices they made to exploit their fellow Jews, yet Jesus helped them too. I really just don’t see Jesus judging or withdrawing help from anyone who came to Him. Why can’t you get past the rhetoric and assumptions: “the poor are poor because of life decisions and the rich apparently made all the right decisions” and “all liberals want to do is throw money at the situation and be enablers” (which is not at all what most people are talking about, by the way)? It shuts down all actual discussion and actual means of finding solutions. Look–I agree. We should not simply enable people who aren’t doing anything to better themselves. The underlying assumption there is that all poor people do is sponge off the government, and I do not for an instant believe that is the case. Yes, those who do (both poor and rich) should not get those benefits. But those who work hard should be helped. Another assumption is that the government doesn’t help the rich at all. Did you notice all the tax breaks they have been getting lately? Have you heard of corporate welfare? Have you heard of our jobs being outsourced to foreign countries?



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kevin s.

posted May 6, 2007 at 12:50 am


“Lest there be any doubt as to animus behind the writer (Doug), this will serve to clarify: “People are not really poor in this country they just think they are.” Doug” I believe that he was referring to the fact that even the poor in this country are very rich by the world’s standards. Doug, feel free to clarify if that was not your meaning. “In other words, I’m really angry now, so I’ll take it out on Soujourner’s even though what I am saying is untrue.” I’m not angry at all. By conflating support of a certain set of policies with caring about the poor, I believe Sojourner’s is making a mistake.



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squeaky

posted May 6, 2007 at 12:59 am


Sojourner’s hasn’t weighed in at all on this conversation…so how are they making a mistake?



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kevin s.

posted May 6, 2007 at 1:13 am


“The other assumption in Doug’s posts are that the wealthy are only wealthy because of hard work and dedication. ” Doug, do you think that the only way to be wealthy is through hard work and dedication? If not, then this is a bit of a straw man, yes? “The challenges faced are completely different, so please stop pretending that they aren’t, especially if you don’t have personal experience with it.” I do have personal experience with it, but that is neither here nor there. I’m not pretending anything. “The thing is, Kevin, no one that Jesus helped deserved His help. Given that the Bible doesn’t give the complete life stories of every person He healed, I think it is better to assume not everyone was poor because of oppression.” But history tells us that this was precisely the case. “Jesus helped the woman caught in adultery,” He prevented her from being stoned to death. This is a bit apples to the oranges at hand, yes?”The tax collectors were hated for the choices they made to exploit their fellow Jews, yet Jesus helped them too.” Again, we are talking about policy, here. Jesus called them to follow him, taught them how to follow him, and asked them to change their lives. Nobody is arguing that we ought not disciple the poor, or that we should ignore them. “I really just don’t see Jesus judging or withdrawing help from anyone who came to Him.” You also don’t see him writing checks. he helped those who had faith in order to prove he was the Messiah. This is the problem when we start to apply the gospels to policy. “Why can’t you get past the rhetoric and assumptions: “the poor are poor because of life decisions and the rich apparently made all the right decisions” and “all liberals want to do is throw money at the situation and be enablers” (which is not at all what most people are talking about, by the way)?” In general, I don’t understand the practice of putting in quotes that which was not said. As I mention above, those are not my assumptions. However, if you want people to move beyond “the poor are poor because they deserve it”, you also have to move beyond the assumption that all people are poor for reasons beyond their control. “Look–I agree. We should not simply enable people who aren’t doing anything to better themselves. The underlying assumption there is that all poor people do is sponge off the government,”No. If anything, the assumption is that some people sponge off the government, and even that is an oversimplification of my point. “Another assumption is that the government doesn’t help the rich at all. Did you notice all the tax breaks they have been getting lately?” I get tax breaks as well. That said, I do not consider a tax break to be the same as “help”. The goal is for people to generate more revenue, improving the economy and (ultimately) generating more taxes. “Have you heard of corporate welfare?” Yeah. Dumb. “Have you heard of our jobs being outsourced to foreign countries?” This is another conversation entirely.



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squeaky

posted May 6, 2007 at 1:18 am


Kevin, Most of my discussion has been with Doug, and you should reread his posts and tell me specifically how I have mischaracterized what he has said. He has not argued that I have.



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Sarasotakid

posted May 6, 2007 at 1:52 am


Sojourner’s hasn’t weighed in at all on this conversation…so how are they making a mistake? squeaky Squeaky, the answer to that is rather simple: Kevin so dislikes their (Sojo’s) political stance that he will stop short of nothing to insult them.



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kevin s.

posted May 6, 2007 at 2:04 am


“Squeaky, the answer to that is rather simple: Kevin so dislikes their (Sojo’s) political stance that he will stop short of nothing to insult them.” What are you getting out of this little game you’re playing?At any rate, the point has been made, and I agree, that Sojourner’s conflates supporting governmental policies which increase entitlements with acting in a Christlike manner. That leads to this either/or mentality regarding the problem of poverty in this country.



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Sarasotakid

posted May 6, 2007 at 2:53 am


As Christians, we ought to be able to have this discussion without being accused of hating the poor. This is where Sojourner’s errs on the side of polemic. kevin s. Sojourner’s hasn’t weighed in at all on this conversation…so how are they making a mistake? squeakyBy conflating support of a certain set of policies with caring about the poor, I believe Sojourner’s is making a mistake. kevin s. Notice how we have gone from SOJO making a mistake by “accusing” conservatives of “hating the poor” to “SOJO” making a mistake by “conflating support of a certain set of policies with caring about the poor.”In essence what happened here is that Kevin initially accused SOJO of accusing conservatives of hating the poor. When you called him in on it, Squeaky, he could not provide proof that SOJO had leveled such an accusation at conservatives. Why? Because it is patently untrue. Hence, Kevin changed the focus of his argument to SOJO “conflating support of certain policies with caring about the poor.”A plain English translation of the second phrase (“conflating support of certain policies with caring for the poor”) is that SOJO equates certain policies with caring for the poor. Note well that the first accusation (where SOJO apparently accuses conservatives of “hating the poor”) is not the same as the second (equating certain policies with caring for the poor). So what is happening here is that Kevin takes a cheap swing at SOJO, gets called on it and then accuses SOJO of an entirely different “transgression.” He couches his language in confusing terms so as to hide the difference between the two accusations.It is confusing, intellectually dishonest and a reflection of a desire to always be right, even to the point of using subterfuge to avoid the appearance of looking wrong. Sometimes, it’s easier to just to say you were wrong.



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canucklehead

posted May 6, 2007 at 3:03 am


“Look at Canada or Cuba and see how much in shambles there health care is in.” Doug | 05.05.07 – 4:44 pm | #Absolute nonsense, at least as far as Canada is concerned. Our health care, like most services in life, has its fair share of challenges, but “shambles” is an entirely uninformed perspective. And “there” is spelled “their.”



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Sarasotakid

posted May 6, 2007 at 3:14 am


Canucklehead, thank you for that firsthand perspective. It beats the right wing pre-packaged arguments about national health care.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 6, 2007 at 4:30 am


At any rate, the point has been made, and I agree, that Sojourner’s conflates supporting governmental policies which increase entitlements with acting in a Christlike manner. That leads to this either/or mentality regarding the problem of poverty in this country. No, it hasn’t, and in fact there is no “either/or” mentality that you say there is. Legitimate prophetic ministry, on the other hand, includes pointing out specific ways that laws or customs hurt the powerless and should be changed, and you confuse the issue by insisting that “non-conservatives” simply want to give the poor “hand-outs.” In fact, we’re talking about giving them a “hand-up” so that they can take care of themselves the way you say they want. In my view, there’s nothing wrong with government involvement for those purposes.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 6, 2007 at 4:34 am


Sometimes, it’s easier to just to say you were wrong. Trouble is, none of the conservatives on this blog will do so — nor do conservatives generally when it comes to supporting the ideology. Usually they literally can’t stand anyone who disagrees with them and accuse him/her, often without just cause, of doing the same.



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kevin s.

posted May 6, 2007 at 5:16 am


“No, it hasn’t, and in fact there is no “either/or” mentality that you say there is” Huh? Nobody has made the point that that Sojourners considers supporting certain government policies necessary to obey Christ’s commands?Squeaky just gave an example of the either/or mentality. How can you say it doesn’t exist?



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kevin s.

posted May 6, 2007 at 5:48 am


“Notice how we have gone from SOJO making a mistake by “accusing” conservatives of “hating the poor” to “SOJO” making a mistake by “conflating support of a certain set of policies with caring about the poor.” ” I said Sojourners errs on the side of polemic, then elaborated. Nice use of selective quotation, there. That said, if one conflates the support of certain policies, with which conservatives disagree, with caring about the poor, it is not a tremendous leap to suggest that conservatives hate the poor. If one does not care about someone, is it so out of bounds to say that they hate them. But you are not trying to take my arguments at face value. You are trying to twist them to make me look ridiculous. “A plain English translation of the second phrase (“conflating support of certain policies with caring for the poor”) is that SOJO equates certain policies with caring for the poor.” Um, no. That is a grammatically incorrect translation of the second phrase. By definition, policies cannot care for the poor. “It is confusing, intellectually dishonest and a reflection of a desire to always be right, even to the point of using subterfuge to avoid the appearance of looking wrong.” You are being obliquely mean, here. “Sometimes, it’s easier to just to say you were wrong.” I have no problem defending my point of view, but I am not going to apologize for your uncharitable interpretation on my point.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 6, 2007 at 6:13 am


Nobody has made the point that that Sojourners considers supporting certain government policies necessary to obey Christ’s commands? That’s your interpretation. Sojourners does not say this per se any more than any conservative organization, but the difference, and a big one, is whom such policies benefit. The truth is that (and I will continue to say this) people want to hold on to what they have as though it actually belongs to them, and the sooner they recognize that it don’t the quicker these arguments will cease. That said, if one conflates the support of certain policies, with which conservatives disagree, with caring about the poor, it is not a tremendous leap to suggest that conservatives hate the poor. If one does not care about someone, is it so out of bounds to say that they hate them. False. It’s a truism that the opposite of love isn’t so much hate but indifference. The hate sneaks in as a result of fear and resentment.



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kevin s.

posted May 6, 2007 at 6:36 am


” Sojourners does not say this per se any more than any conservative organization, but the difference, and a big one, is whom such policies benefit.” Fine. But you stated that it was false that my point had been made. I didn’t understand what you were saying.”False. It’s a truism that the opposite of love isn’t so much hate but indifference. The hate sneaks in as a result of fear and resentment.” I suppose, but I think I have sufficiently explained my point.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 6, 2007 at 6:55 am


I suppose, but I think I have sufficiently explained my point. I disagree. Have you ever heard about the response to the book “Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger”? It’s called “Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt-Manipulators,” a contemptuous title if I’ve ever heard one. I refuse to read the book because I pretty much know what’s in it. (For that matter, I’ve never read “Rich Christians” either.) Anyway, the ultimate issue is control. “Compassionate conservatives” have from jumpstreet have claimed to want to help the poor, but they don’t encourage the poor to vote, run for office or become community activists, the things that can really make a difference. They want to help the poor on their terms and on their schedule, which frankly displays more contempt for the poor than the welfare system and the liberals they so despise.



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Doug

posted May 6, 2007 at 8:11 am


Again I have to laugh at how I have been taken out of context. I do not hate the poor people in this country. To put in plain english I feel the poor in this country are the homeless. The poor are not people who have a job,have a roof over their head or can put food on the table. Again it is a matter of what you constiute as poor. Most of the people in this country are rich because they did work hard and give things up for the moment to get ahead. Sure some were handed or born into wealth but the majority were not. In this country we have a problem with wanting things now and not wanting to work and to save for things. You can make 20,000 a year and if you make the right choices with your money you can become rich. By the same token you can make 100,000 a year and if you make wrong choices can end up by this country’s standards poor.If you are to take my argument one step further how do you explain the kid born into wealth that throws his life away or the poor kid who up ends making something of himself. That is all I saying. There is a reason we have people jumping at the bit to come here. Squeaky, You are right why would I or anyone else want to put our kids in failing schools? We wouldn’t which is why school choice is such a good idea. The problem is liberals are so far in the pockets of Unions that they will never allow it to happen. Why are teachers unionized anyways? You can teach or you can’t. To solve some of our problems with schools, getting rid of teachers unions would be a good place to start. That way the bad teachers would weed themselves out and the truly called to teach would still have jobs. School choice threatens teachers jobs. Do we as parents or the teachers out there really care about the kids? If we did we would demand more accountability from our schools. As with all unions there is no accountibility at all to do your job right or well. You really want to give people more and better choices in life fix our schools. The right way not by just throwing more money at them. Also let people choose where they want to go to school.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 6, 2007 at 2:40 pm


We wouldn’t which is why school choice is such a good idea. The problem is liberals are so far in the pockets of Unions that they will never allow it to happen. Why are teachers unionized anyways? You can teach or you can’t. To solve some of our problems with schools, getting rid of teachers unions would be a good place to start. That way the bad teachers would weed themselves out and the truly called to teach would still have jobs. School choice threatens teachers jobs. Do we as parents or the teachers out there really care about the kids? If we did we would demand more accountability from our schools. As with all unions there is no accountibility at all to do your job right or well. You really want to give people more and better choices in life fix our schools. The right way not by just throwing more money at them. Also let people choose where they want to go to school. As the son of former public school teachers, I know for a fact that you’re way off-base for any number of reasons. 1) Teachers are unionized for the same reason other industries were — real and potential abuse by employers. Though this is a different scenario, in my area we had a recent brouhaha in one of the local school districts in which a top basketball coach was fired because the son of a school board member didn’t get enough playing time. Just think what might happen if a teacher, even a good one, ran afoul of someone in authority. 2) Some years ago, the school district where my mother worked tried to privatize one of its schools to avoid dealing with the union — an outside company was going to run and staff it, as well offer breakfast and after-school programs for the same amount of money that they would have paid the teachers. The experiment, which under state law was flatly illegal but had a lot of right-wing backing and was tied up in court, was an abject failure — teachers being assaulted by students (and this was an elementary school) and other issues too numerous to count. 3) Did you ever notice how unpopular “school choice” actually is around the country? There’s a reason for that — people want choice for their kids but not for other people’s kids because they want to have “more than.” Voucher programs have been consistently shot down in my state because parents in suburban districts don’t want lower-class kids, especially from urban areas, in their schools, and the very attraction of a private education is its exclusivity. Besides, back in the 1990s a major “school choice” effort did take place in Milwaukee, and guess what — essentially no difference. The key is to uplift the families where those poor kids come from. How that’s done of course is subject to debate.



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squeaky

posted May 6, 2007 at 6:05 pm


Kevin: “Squeaky just gave an example of the either/or mentality.” I did? where? Doug–read Rick Nowlin’s post. Good response Rick. One thing I must ask you, however, Doug, is are you a teacher have you ever had a conversation about education with a teacher? I actually am a teacher, albeit a college teacher, and I also have many friends who are high school teachers. Yes, there are bad teachers in the system. But, the majority of teachers are teachers because they are passionate about working with kids (they certainly aren’t in it for the money). The majority of teachers work extremely hard to provide the best education they can for their students. And I am sick and tired of this mentality that permeates this country that if we are going to fix education, we need to have better teachers, as if the problems with education are all the teachers’ fault. These people are extremely hard working and dedicated individuals, and if you want to fix education in this country, you would listen more to what the teachers themselves have to say about how best to teach our young people. We actually know what we are doing, and having our methodology and curriculum handed down from beaurocrats who know absolutely nothing about how to teach or how people learn does nothing but hamper our effectiveness. And, you still made my point that education in impoverished neighborhoods is not as good as education in wealthy neighborhoods and students from those neighborhoods don’t have the same advantages. Advocating for a voucher system acknowledges the situation is not equal, and it also advocates for helping the poor. Which, although solution I disagree with (I would much rather see the neighborhoods that support those schools being strengthened and made safe) you nonetheless make my point that success isn’t just about working hard and being dedicated, and that sometimes people need help to get there (I would argue that we all need help to get there).



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kevin s.

posted May 6, 2007 at 6:37 pm


“I did? where?” Your line of reasoning is that any discussion of personal responsibility as it relates to poverty is tantamount to believing “the poor get what they deserve” across the board.If that is what Doug is espousing (and he has said that it is not), then he would be in error. But you are similarly in error to presume that there is not gray area here.



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squeaky

posted May 6, 2007 at 6:51 pm


You and Doug do the same that you accuse me of when you assume the liberal response to poverty is to simply throw money at the issue. Doug basically boiled the solution to poverty down to “with hard work and dedication, anyone can succeed”, and “the poor are poor because of bad choices” (paraphrase), thus completely oversimplifying a much more complex problem. I said nothing about excusing people from personal responsibility to be part of the solution, and yet both you and Doug say that is what I (and all liberals) am proposing. I have argued over and over that it isn’t nearly as easy for someone to pull themselves out of poverty as Doug seems to think it is. Seems to me in order to have an actual discussion and find actual solutions to poverty in this nation, we need to get past the assumptions about what we thing the underlying causes of poverty are. Yes, there is individual responsibility, but the problem is far more multifaceted and complex than that, and the causes in one community are not the same causes in another (compare inner city to Appalachia). Not everyone who is poor is poor because of bad choices, and people who are poor emphatically do not have the same opportunities that people who are wealthy.



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kevin s.

posted May 6, 2007 at 11:52 pm


“You and Doug do the same that you accuse me of when you assume the liberal response to poverty is to simply throw money at the issue. ” Where have I said this? I think we can both agree that a discussion needs to get beyond presumptions and extremes. I think Doug agrees, too, but I’ll let him explain himself. Once we get past the idea that supporting ‘x’ or ‘y’ policy determines who is and is not advancing God’s politics, I think we can get to the nitty-gritty. Here’s an example of the need to be careful with governmental intervention. In Minneapolis, we have a growing crime problem on the cities north side (where I live. I moved north, and the problem followed me). As a crime-fighting tactic, Mayor Rybak decided to crack down on houses in the area that were not “up to code”. Minneapolis is ridiculous w/r/t chipping paint, long grass etc, as it is, but the theory was that we would take slumlords to task for ugly properties, thereby eliminating crime. And so, he set the inspectors to work, making homeowners repaint houses, replace windows, demolish garages, add steps and railings and what not. Unfortunately, the foreclosure boom hit this area particularly hard. Thus, a number of first time homeowners in the area, who were already struggling to make payments, suddenly had assessments ranging from $400 to $25,000. And so the value of these properties drops preciptously (who wants to buy a house with a $25,000 assessment on it?) Of course, those who opposed it could have been accused of favoring slumlords and oppressing the “least of these”. Real life problems do not lend themselves to that sort of sloganeering.



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Sarasotakid

posted May 7, 2007 at 12:49 am


But you are not trying to take my arguments at face value. You are trying to twist them to make me look ridiculous. Kevin S. Kevin, your arguments speak for themselves. I did not twist them nor do they need to be twisted in order to obtain the result that you lament.



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Doug

posted May 7, 2007 at 3:07 am


I did mean that the poor in this country are not really poor compared to the rest of the world. The problem here is that people think they are poor when they really aren’t. Just because you can not afford a house or a new car or the latest gadgets does not mean you are poor. If you have a roof over your head and food on the table you are not poor. Thank you kevin for understanding what I am trying to say. I do stand corrected to a point on schools. I still beilieve the teachers unions have interests other then kids at play but I will concede parents must step up to the plate and start being better parents. So yes both parents and teachers must start doing a better job.



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Sarasotakid

posted May 7, 2007 at 3:46 am


If you have a roof over your head and food on the table you are not poor. Doug I would love to introduce you to some “not poor” families that I worked with in Paterson, New Jersey. Families that met your standard- they had food (a $175/month food stamp grant for a family of four and $474 in spending money in an economy where minimum rent was $750). The “roof” over their head was a rat-infested hovel. I’m sure they’d be relieved to find out that they’re not poor. Your concept of poverty is clearly out of touch with reality.



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canucklehead

posted May 7, 2007 at 3:54 am


“The problem here is that people think they are poor when they really aren’t. Just because you can not afford a house or a new car or the latest gadgets does not mean you are poor.” Doug By this criteria then, I suggest probably most of us yakking on this blog fall into the category of the super, super-rich.



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canucklehead

posted May 7, 2007 at 4:00 am


rich, rich, R-I-C-H rich, rich, don’t have an itch Jesus left heaven to die on the tree so I’m rich, rich, rich After sitting on the board of an inner-city street ministry for 7 years, I resigned upon the realization that not only can I not relate to the tragic reality of those who are systemically impoverished, I have minimal interest in doing so long term b/c I’m just too uncomfortable around those poor guys with no roof over their heads – you know, guys like Jesus; I prefer my life to be uncomplicated, affluent, overflowing with the kind of wealth Jesus promised his disciples they should expect



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kevin s.

posted May 7, 2007 at 4:56 am


“Your concept of poverty is clearly out of touch with reality.” Compared to the rest of the world, they are still relatively good. But yes, I doubt any of them would be glib enough to tell that to their face. My siser has a lot of economic struggles. I sympathize with her plight, even though she has it better than 95% of the world. Just because I wouldn’t say that to her doesn’t mean it isn’t true.”Kevin, your arguments speak for themselves.” Then why do you feel compelled to reword them?



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Doug

posted May 7, 2007 at 5:19 am


Rick, You are assuming that I don’t think or know that all my money comes from and belongs to God. You assume wrong. What I am and other conservatives are opposed to is the govt. taking or stealing our money thru taxes and then spending it foolishly. If I want to help the poor it is because I choose to. Just as I am sure you don’t like to be forced to do anything as well I assume. Anyways how long have we been fighting the war on poverty by redistributing income? The real problem is Democrats know they need victims to survive and they also know that the policies they believe in do not work. They want it that way because if they worked they would have no more voters. Kind of like keeping minorities in line by promising the world and then delivering nothing. Then when a minority succeeds without help from the govt. he is called every name in the book and made to feel as an outcast. Sorry if this is harsh but the truth hurts. The problem with human nature is people are afraid to succeed. It is way easier to fail and blame someone else for your problems then to look in the mirror and accept the blame yourself. Dems and liberals are right there to tell them it is not there fault and to bail them out. Yes Jesus bailed me out for my sins but first I had to accept that I was a sinner. Once I did that what Jesus did was enough. Before I knew that I was a sinner even though he died it was not enough. Do you see what I am gettig at here? Yes people need help in life but the way to do that is by helping them make good choices. Sometimes that means making then accept the consequences for there actions and choices they made. God does. Even though we are saved once we accept him as our Lord and Savior he still holds us responsible for the choices we make while on this earth. Yes by his mercy we are saved from hell (what we really deserve)in eterninty but while we are he holds us accountable. I realize that in most churches today you are probally not hearing this preached but if you read your bible it is all there. You do not learn from past mistakes or actions if there is no pain from them.



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canucklehead

posted May 7, 2007 at 6:18 am


“Yes people need help in life but the way to do that is by helping them make good choices.” Doug And what, then, do you propose we do for those who need help in life due to choices they had nothing to do with? e.g what country/city/ghetto they were born in, what color their skin is, how deeply their country is in debt to the Western world, etc? Sorry, Doug, I’m all for personal responsibility, but banging that drum exclusively is a reflection of an inadequate grasp of the reality of systemic poverty.



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canucklehead

posted May 7, 2007 at 6:20 am


Or, as Sarasotakid put it to you previously: “Your concept of poverty is clearly out of touch with reality.” Sarasotakid | 05.06.07 – 9:51 pm | #



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 7, 2007 at 6:35 am


Doug — Once again, you completely miss the point I’ve consistently tried to make. Let me give you an example that I hope you can relate to. Back in the South before the 1960s African-Americans had it particularly difficult because of the pervasive Jim Crow laws that were often brutally enforced and that you would say are plain evil — they were forced to go to substandard schools and were not allowed to vote. In many cases the culture of oppression caused poverty and dysfunction in the black community that persists to this day. Now, based on what you have said in previous posts, had you been around in those days you would have said that blacks simply should just work within the limitations of where they were. Well, back in the day they did just that — but the system was still rotten to the core and needed to be changed so that all could benefit, and that is why Martin Luther King Jr. is today a household name. Let’s move to today. When you remove the economic vitality from “inner city” neighborhoods, which was done in most major cities beginning in the 1960s when wealthier whites began to leave for the suburbs, you have problems. When you say that people in poor neighborhoods have only themselves to blame for their plight, you simply display your complete ignorance about their true situation and utter contempt for them. Bottom line, there are systemic issues that need to be addressed along with the diaconal ones — and that may mean some “economic redistribution,” not so much in direct cash payments but in, say, grants for the establishment of businesses that can employ people and keep them off welfare and also for education. (BTW, these were cut under Reagan because people bettering themselves is the last thing conservatives want; they know the poor won’t vote for them.) I thank the LORD that my church, as theologically conservative and evangelical as it gets, understands this truth. While we certainly do believe in and teach repentance and personal responsibility, we also recognize that the immediate environment also needs to be changed and have taken steps to do that. For openers, we’re opening a credit union hopefully to get rid of those check-cashing places that charge ridiculous fees. We even have a team of lawyers who fight for fair treatment for the poor in the justice system. (Have you even thought about that?) Then when a minority succeeds without help from the govt. he is called every name in the book and made to feel as an outcast. By this I assume you’re talking about black conservatives. Well, let me tell you something — most blacks understand that they would be absolutely nowhere were they not set up by WHITE conservatives with no interest in Biblical justice and reconciliation and with more money than God. Do you think for a second that, say, Clarence Thomas is on the Supreme Court just because of his credentials? Not a chance, because other blacks were probably actually more qualified than he — he just happened to be in the right-wing pipeline.



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squeaky

posted May 7, 2007 at 4:53 pm


Doug–“The real problem is Democrats know they need victims to survive and they also know that the policies they believe in do not work.” Kevin S–this is what I mean about Doug spouting black and white and absolute political statements. In fact, read his entire post above–where he says the government steals our money through taxes is an example of his assumptions that the only solutions liberals have for poverty is redistribution of wealth, or solving the problems by throwing money at it. It would be nice, Doug, if you actually asked what people here think the solutions are. It would be nice to have an actual discussion about this, rather than just going back and forth about why people are poor. It would be nice if you would get beyond blaming the poor for their poverty and acknowledge the issue is far deeper than you could ever imagine. True–even the poorest of our poor are (arguably) richer than the poor of third world nations. But saying stuff like that shows a callousness–basically, it is like saying “you have no right to complain. People have it worse than you, “and completely ignores the challenges that person is facing with regards to making ends meet. You seem to find it acceptable that people live in impoverished means as long as they are wealthier than people in third world nations, which shows a huge ambivalence towards them. Please also realize that people in this nation need far more money just to meet basic survival needs. The cost of living is much higher here than in third world nations, so while a poor person here would be rich in that country, they are not even close to rich here. Doug, it concerns me that you seem to have constructed a means of justifying poverty in this nation. I see it as a way of appeasing your own guilt over it or absolving any need to do something about it. “People are poor because of poor choices and they need to be held personally responsible for those choices”–I think you say that because if you truly believe that, you separate yourself from them, and it is a way of justifying your own inaction. I hope you read Rick Nowlin’s post above. He gives you a good historical perspective on the roots of poverty in this nation (at least with respect to African Americans). Try to understand this, as well as the roots of poverty in Appalachia and Native American reservations. Many conservatives I have spoken to about this issue simply shrug their shoulders when I offer the historical perspective, saying “it’s over. That’s in the past. Get over it.” I hope you won’t be quite so callous and insensitive and actually take the time to try to understand the long term effects that centuries of oppression can have on people, even though that same oppression is (seemingly) absent today. I hope you answer Canucklehead’s question above–how do you suggest people get out of poverty? We need to get past all the political stereotyping and move towards discussing solutions. For a second, stop blaming the poor for being poor and give us some solutions. The perspective of the need for personal responsibility is a good one, and that perspective needs to be part of a solution. But you need to also acknowledge there are other perspectives that are equally important to consider as well…



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squeaky

posted May 7, 2007 at 4:59 pm


Canucklehead, I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. I heard part of an interview with a Canadian musician yesterday, and he said something about how he senses this difference between emphasis on community in Canada vs. and emphasis on the individual found in the U.S. This is something I have just started thinking about. I do think a big part of the problem with poverty is this nation’s worship of rugged individualism. We have no concept of community responsibility. Individuals succeed or fail on their own (apparently there is an I in team, afterall). I shouldn’t have to be held responsible for someone else’s needs. This is a western construct. On another note, it also colors our reading of the Bible–gives us our emphasis on personal salvation, when the events in the Bible happened in a culture that emphasised community over the rugged individual.



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Doug

posted May 7, 2007 at 5:12 pm


Rick, When you say other blacks were more qualified who exactly? Consevatives do actually want to see the poor improve. This is not about votes. To me it seems everything dems do is about votes. That is why Dems keep on bringing up the same tired and worn out cliches every election cycle. Why would the poor vote for republicans when Dems are out there promising them the world without having to work for anything. They just tell them we will take from the rich and give it to you. That was the point I made in my earlier post about minorities who make it on there own. When they do they realize how what the dems have been pushing on them has actually kept them in bondage. They have an awakening shall we say. For politicions it might be about all the votes but for the man on the street conseravitive we really want the poor to succeed. As I said change is hard and most people do not want to do it. Dems know that if they keep them poor they will continue to vote for them because they control the money. A slave is a servent to his master. Consevatives can actually vote for either a Dem or a Rep. but when you depend on Govt. you are locked in to who will pay. That is why I believe so many people who disagree with the social policies of the Dems(Abortion,gay Marriage,etc)vote for them anyway. How else do you explain the most evil president we have had in a long time win two terms in the nineties. So Rick you seem to think conservatives only care about money and to a diagree you are right but as I have just shown Libs care about money even more. Enough to vote against what they really believe in.



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squeaky

posted May 7, 2007 at 5:45 pm


“Why would the poor vote for republicans when Dems are out there promising them the world without having to work for anything. ” And you think only the Dems are guilty of “bringing up the same tired and worn out cliches.” That’s basically all you have done with your posts, Doug. Please, take some time to think and listen and try to understand instead of leaning on your cliches. Again, it would be nice if you would offer some solutions instead of throwing stones and speaking in absolute terms. “How else do you explain the most evil president we have had in a long time win two terms in the nineties.” This speaks volumes about you, Doug. How many thousands of people died under Clinton’s presidency as the result of a fraudulent and poorly planned out war that has cost this nation thousands of lives and billions of dollars? I’m going to go have a deep meaningful conversation with that brick wall over there, now. You don’t consider one word I or anyone else here says–you don’t ask for solutions, nor do you offer any.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 7, 2007 at 6:23 pm


When you say other blacks were more qualified who exactly? Consevatives do actually want to see the poor improve. This is not about votes. To me it seems everything dems do is about votes. That is why Dems keep on bringing up the same tired and worn out cliches every election cycle. Why would the poor vote for republicans when Dems are out there promising them the world without having to work for anything. Doug — please. Your uninformed blather is really getting old. Please go back and reread my previous post. And besides, it IS about votes, specifically that the conservatives don’t want the poor to vote because then they won’t have the power they crave.



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Doug

posted May 7, 2007 at 8:06 pm


My blather is uniformed now? It seems to me that liberals are the ones who have a problem with people they disagree with. Thinhk the Fairness Doctrine. Liberals are the one trying to shut up oposing points of view. Liberal ideas can not compete in the marketplace of ideas. I noticed you guys have not yet refuted anything I have posted. talk about cliches, all the left has are cliches. I am not trying to shut you up but to get you to think. As just seen by Frances election results conservatism works everytime it is tried. The reason republicans lost the last election was not because of the war but because they became not conseravitive enough. Please refute my arguments with facts and show me where I am wrong. Of course the media will never give you the straight story. As it is said My people perish for lack of knowledge. How better to control people then to keep them ignorant.



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kevin s.

posted May 7, 2007 at 8:19 pm


“This speaks volumes about you, Doug. How many thousands of people died under Clinton’s presidency as the result of a fraudulent and poorly planned out war that has cost this nation thousands of lives and billions of dollars? ” This, in turn, speaks volumes about you. A number of presidents have been guilty of atrocity, intentionally or no. I would argue that many thousands have dies as a result of Clinton’s foreign policy, but that is an entriely different discussion. We are obviously each more prones to magnify the offenses of those with whom we disagree. The way Clinton treated his wife (and women in general) was despicable, but I don’t think of him as the “evil” president. Most of the time, he was just trying to do his thing.



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 7, 2007 at 9:09 pm


My blather is uniformed now? It seems to me that liberals are the ones who have a problem with people they disagree with. Think the Fairness Doctrine. Liberals are the one trying to shut up oposing points of view. Liberal ideas can not compete in the marketplace of ideas. Keep sticking your foot in your mouth, because that’s exactly what you’re doing. Seriously. For your information, it was Reagan who eliminated the Fairness Doctrine — you don’t have right-wing talk radio with it. It is the conservatives, not “liberals,” who have never been able to compete fairly in the marketplace of ideas, so they tried to eliminate all the competition with outright falsehoods — and now people are starting to get it. (I know that whole story, so don’t try to convince me otherwise.) And until the Iraq War, the left wing in this country was all but dead. The reason republicans lost the last election was not because of the war but because they became not conseravitive enough. Please refute my arguments with facts and show me where I am wrong. Of course the media will never give you the straight story. I’m in the media, by the way, and I can tell you that we ARE giving you the straight story. The trouble is that you, as well as most conservatives, don’t want to hear it. And as for the GOP not being “conservative enough,” voters actually supported movement on health care, limits on free trade and a rise in the minimum wage, all anathema to conservatives. Face the music — your type of conservatism is on life support and would have died long ago were it not for millions upon millions of dollars of right-wing money (much of which comes from my city), and today even evangelical Christians are rethinking their formerly-unquestioned support of right-wing policies. In fact, that’s the original subject of this thread.



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squeaky

posted May 7, 2007 at 10:29 pm


Kevin S. “How else do you explain the most evil president we have had in a long time win two terms in the nineties.” Why, when I call Doug on a sweeping judgmental statement, do you defend him for it? You should be calling him out on such statements even more vociferously than I. If you don’t think of Clinton as the “evil” president, how can you let such statements just slide by without challenging it? So instead of pointing out the vileness of the statement to the person who made it, you defend him and go after me for pointing it out to him. I don’t get it.



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted May 7, 2007 at 10:47 pm


moderatelad, “I wish the authors and many who post on this site would understand that we are not just 2 issue – single facet people.” Then tell your “leaders”, ml. THEY are the ones who keep harping on these 2 issues. TELL Dobson, Falwell, Robertson, Perkins, etc. to STOP harassing gays and poor girls who need abortions. TELL your political “leaders” too, to stop proposing bills that would restrict women’s rights to control their own bodies, and that would kick gay American citizens out of the ‘guarantees’ of the Constitution. If THEY stop doing that, maybe the world WOULD see the ‘right’ as more than 2 issue, 1 faceted people. They ARE your ‘spokespersons’, so to speak.



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted May 7, 2007 at 10:49 pm


Unsympathetic reader, “there are gay-welcoming churches that certainly help the homeless” Yes there are. Mine does too. The Metropolitan Community Churches, the United Churches that I’ve attended ALL do that. And run schools. And supper programs. In fact, MCC Toronto was asked to take over the Toronto Star Christmas gift distribution drive.



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kevin s.

posted May 7, 2007 at 11:52 pm


“So instead of pointing out the vileness of the statement to the person who made it, you defend him and go after me for pointing it out to him” i don’t think it is useful or helpful to label presidents as “evil”. I think that was clear. Do you want me to swat him with a newspaper?



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canucklehead

posted May 8, 2007 at 3:50 am


We interrupt Round 13 of de la Hoya vs. Mayweather Jr. to bring you this commecial sursage from the hosers up North. To attempt to answer squeaky’s request to me earlier in this thread regarding the situation in Canada… I think the fact that Canadian confederation (1867) required the accomodating of two disparate nationalities (British and French)w/ all their varying customs, perspectives and convictions, wove a more communal orientation into our national DNA than may have happened south of the 49th. As you likely know, seldom a month goes by up here w/o somebody in Quebec – in the name of French nationalism – trying to reignite the animosities that led to the Battle of the Plains of Abraham (1759) at Mount Royal (Montreal). So I’m not suggesting for a moment that the “experiment” up here is finished yet or that it doesn’t have its detractors. That being said, I think the accomodation factor in Canadian history is something that most Canadians value altho it has its challenges to be sure. After the first 50 years or so of confederation (1867) the Liberals and the Conservatives seemed content to do nothing but polarize at the ideological level, enough Canadians were incensed enough with the fact that the poor kept getting poorer and the rich kept getting richer despite all the bugle juice being disgorged, that they created the CCF that morphed into what is now the New Democrats, an alternative to the two main parties which – altho it has never won the Prime Minister’s office – has always elected enough members to serve as a sort of collective national conscience to ensure that the the plight of the impoverished and disenfranchised doesn’t get lost amidst the never-ending jockeying for position of the Liberals and the Conservatives.In some of our Parliamentary sessions, the NDs have functioned as what we call “the balance of power” which means that neither the Libs nor Conservs elected a majority gov’t (155 out of 308 seats in the House of Commons) so were forced to cobble together an agreement with the NDs (or socialists) in order to maintain power. In my judgement, this more recent indication of the historical need/willingness of Cdns to accomodate has been a positive reality in the development of our national life.



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squeaky

posted May 8, 2007 at 3:32 pm


Kevin S–you say that to me, but not to him. So instead you swat me with the newspaper and wonder why that bothers me.



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squeaky

posted May 8, 2007 at 3:35 pm


canucklehead–thanks for your comments. It seems another reason our two party system is fatally flawed here. Good perspective!



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kevin s.

posted May 8, 2007 at 4:48 pm


“Kevin S–you say that to me, but not to him. So instead you swat me with the newspaper and wonder why that bothers me.” (Kevin S. swats Doug with newspaper). Bad Doug.



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Doug

posted May 9, 2007 at 4:01 am


Rick, I do not know if you are going to read this or not but no winder your perspective is Liberal. You work for a newspaper. Consevatism is not dead. It is very alive and well. The reason right wing talk radio is kicking everone’behind in the ratings is because the american people are tired of the garbage and lies the old media is giving them. Evryone who has a brain knows the print and tv media have a liberal bias. The problem is the people who work at newspapers or telvision either do not see it as bias or will not admit it. The print media gives a pass to Dems all the time on things they hang rebs. with, ie the war in Iraq. With the new media today you can now look up things the old media will not tell you. Things like that Bill and Hillary Clinton, John kerry and many other Dems said the same things about Iraq that George Bush said. The difference is George Bush did something about it. As far as the war being unpopular that is anonther lie the media is spreading. All over this great country people are proudy supporting our troops. The problem is the old media and the Dems are invested in our defeat and victory in iraq would be political suicide to them politically. You can take polls and have them give the results you want. Thank God we have a president who is willing to the right thing and does not respond to poll numbers. As far as calling former President Clinton evil it does has precedent in the bible. God called many rulers or kings evil. The problem with the Left is there is no right or wrong, only do what feels right. It is why as a Christian I can not support liberal policies. My advice to you is get out a little see America see what really makes it run and you might come back with a different perspective. I have no problem disagreeing. That is why America is so great. God bless our brave troops and have a blessed day,



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moderatelad

posted May 9, 2007 at 6:18 am


curiouser and curiouser… | 05.07.07 – 4:52 pm | #They ARE your ‘spokespersons’, so to speak. They are ‘spokespersons’ not mine. I can agree with some of what they say but I do take issue with some of them on the delivery. These issues are important to them and they feel strongly about them. They have a right to express their opinion just like you or I have that right.Later – .



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Rick Nowlin

posted May 9, 2007 at 6:20 am


Doug — Your diatribe is exactly what’s wrong with conservatism — it is and always has been so emotionally invested in its warped worldview that anyone who dares to challenge it is somehow “immoral” or whatever invective you choose to use. But I’ve been studying modern conservatism since the mid-1980s, and I have nothing good to say about it and look forward to its inevitable demise. Contrary to what you believe about the mainstream media, we are indeed far, far more accurate than “new media” because we have far higher standards. On the other hand, “new media” are basically self-promoted, self-edited, answer to no one and often also tell people what they want to hear regardless of the facts on the ground, and that makes them dangerous. On a personal note, I personally have gone head-to-head with the conservative paper in town and wondered it they were at the same event I was — and I know for a fact that editors at that have been known to change stories to promote the conservative viewpoint and ignore those that don’t. (No, my paper doesn’t do that in reverse.) And do you know what? The right-wing media, especially the Fox News Channel, are now being exposed as a pack of liars and Fox’s ratings have been going down because of its overt support for the war — in fact, that’s why it ginned up that phony “War on Christmas” to keep outrage, not to mention ratings, up in 2005. As for the war in Iraq, I live in an area that is strongly anti-war; in fact, my state voted out a sitting U. S. senator last fall in part because of his unwavering support for it. And contrary to what you believe, radical Islamic forces over there want us to stay precisely because it will be easier for them to recruit — but you’ll never see Bush admit to that truth, so invested is he in this war. Indeed, two years ago we began receiving calls from readers asking why we weren’t putting the latest American casualties on the front page — that doesn’t sound like support to me. There is a reason the GOP lost big time during the last election, and it is because conservatism is finally being exposed for what it had always been — an ideology that caters to people at the top at the expense of everyone else. The conservatives, who have invested about a billion dollars into their propaganda machine over the past three decades, are eventually going down for good (though of course you are certainly free to deny this). Doug, you say you as a Christian cannot support liberal policies; I, on the other hand, as a Christian cannot support conservative policies because they divide, not unite. And contrary to what you said, you do indeed fear disagreement, otherwise you would be more charitable to those on this blog who don’t agree with you and you wouldn’t consistently slam the media, Democrats et al who don’t overtly support the conservative agenda. Furthermore, much of what you believe I have already told is just plain false, and none of your protestations will change that.



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Canucklehead

posted May 9, 2007 at 7:31 am


(Kevin S. swats Doug with newspaper.) Bad Doug. “Rick, I do not know if you are going to read this or not but no winder your perspective is Liberal. You work for a newspaper.” Doug Doug wets on newspaper. Good Doug.



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Don

posted May 9, 2007 at 1:56 pm


Woof! Woof!



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