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McCain, Is Religion Your Blankie?

John McCain 2000: Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and a few Washington leaders of the pro-life movement call me an unacceptable presidential candidate. They distort my pro-life positions and smear the reputations of my supporters. Why? Because I don’t pander to them.
John McCain on Beliefnet 2008: I would probably have to say yes, that the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation. But I say that in the broadest sense. The lady that holds her lamp beside the golden door doesn’t say, “I only welcome Christians.” We welcome the poor, the tired, the huddled masses. But when they come here they know that they are in a nation founded on Christian principles.


It’s not that I vehemently disagree with the Senator, I even kind of know what he means by Christian values–a whole set of vague values that are all about love, peace, and pluralism. I buy into those, so does Judaism, (I think that Islam can also) and so does anyone who carries any sort of an ethical compass. If someone can’t be peaceful, loving and pluralistic in the vaguest political sense of each word, we as country would do better without them. But what is pathetic about McCain’s pandering is that he is doing exactly what he railed against eight years ago, pandering to those who stand on the side of intolerance and bigotry.
Rabbi Grossman and Jon Meachem writing in the Herald Tribune might be correct that John McCain’s recent statements indicate a very shoddy understanding of the Constitution. But that never stooped anyone from becoming president. McCain’s statements are disturbing because they highlight how faith has become the shmattah (rag) of politics-–there to wipe away dismal polling numbers or pamper a constituency that continues to cry that its voice is not being heard.
Senator what’s happened to you? What happened to the straight talk? What happened to the honesty that made you a most popular politician in America? I know how tempting it is to play the religious card. Rudy and Mitt both have more baggage than Dobson can handle and you think, “Hmmm. Maybe I can sneak in there and grab the religious right’s vote.” Earth to senator McCain: in your dreams! Sorry Charlie, they are not going to buy it and you should not be selling it because they know what you know: you don’t really believe it yourself.

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Larry Widener

posted October 10, 2007 at 12:34 pm

If the framers wanted to make the nation a Christian nation they could have easily done so. There were non-Christians living in the colonies as well as Roman Catholics and that was at a time when being Catholic was not as accepted to Protestants. This was a land that invited and welcomed the Puritans, Pilgrims, Quakers, Jews and where Roger Williams in particular emphasized religious freedom when Rhode Island was founded. Ironically we have one truly home grown religion (LDS or Mormons) and we have people in 2007 questioning whether a Mormon can be president. Enough- the House of God has many rooms.

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posted October 10, 2007 at 3:01 pm

Yes, the Ineffable has unlimited rooms, much much more than human beings could imagine, and if there are a few profoundly deep souls who can imagine the unlimited rooms made manifest and re-made manifest by the Sacred, I believe, even they cannot re-create Life in exactly the same way the Spirit of Life revolves, evolves, and continues to keep those of us who still care, in stunningly grateful awe. Call it Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, and/or Hindu, and much more (even Scientists!) There is no word that can precisely describe or explain the Ineffable, and “we the people of the United States of America” do, for the most part, know this, and that is why religious freedom continues to give us reason to call ourselves “pluralists.” Diversity anyone? And if the U.S. is primarily a Christian nation, so what? SO BE IT!! “For what good is it to gain the world but lose our souls?” (paraphrased from Jesus Christ of the Bible). We are all Jewish souls, Hindu souls, Christian souls and so on and so forth. A human soul is a human soul is a human soul. . . . Names are merely convenient identity markers that help us find and maintain anchorage in an increasingly unanchored world. May Goodness, Grace, and Love Bless our lives everyone. “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. . .” If every loving living being lit his and her own light, the Holy Spirit would be seen and heard as easily as the Sun can be seen through a glass darkly and the resounding sounds of a butterfly can be heard through a harp with no strings. Call it whatever we want together or in the private universes of our individual heartsmindssouls. “It’s the same Light, and (we) all must live by it and die by it” (Mary Stewart’s version of the Legends of the Holy Grail in The Crystal Cave). Forgive me if any of my quotes are not precise. I hope they are precise enough to mean something. Thank you and Amen. Lee.

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jessica quick

posted October 10, 2007 at 3:51 pm

maybe if we voted by baseing our votes on morality and the word of god we might really be a christian nation but we are to busy or quick to vote along party lines and try to hard to be politically correct so we have became a confused and failing ununited mess no we are not a christian nation

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posted October 10, 2007 at 4:10 pm

I think Karl Marx said it best(don’t jews say things better than others) when he reffered to religion as the :”Opium of the masses”. I work for a small company where i am the Only jewish person that most of my co-workers will come into contact with and i have gotten looks for taking off Jewish Holidays, or celebrating jewish stuff.

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Marian Neudel

posted October 10, 2007 at 4:37 pm

Oy! When Marx called religion the opiate of the masses, opium was LEGAL, and was known not for its addictive properties but for its analgesic powers. Marx was saying that, until “scientific socialism” came along, the suffering of the masses could only be palliated, never cured.

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Al Eastman

posted October 10, 2007 at 4:55 pm

The following data on religious affiliation comes from the 2007 NY Times Almanac and is the total membership in various religions in the United States for the year 2006.
Christians 157,240,068
Bahai 829,260
Buddhist 2,721,335
Hindus 1,143,864
Jews 5,764,208
Muslims 4,657,005
Sikhs 270,034
Unitarian 214,738
The US population in 2006 was more than 300,000,000. If I did not miss one, those more than 157 million Christians belonged to 145 DIFFERENT churches.
Nominally, more than half of our population belongs to Christian denominations. I would hazard a guess that the bulk of the unaffiliated remainder self-identify as Christians, possibly giving rise to the notion that the USA is a “Christian nation”.
At least now I know why the Supermarkets and liquor stores are so crowded on Sunday mornings, it is the over 127,000,000 “unchurched” people.

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Mr. Luna

posted October 10, 2007 at 7:59 pm

We are a nation where most of the religious population call themselves Christian…yes; But a Christian Nation by values and actions…NOT!
We definately were not founded on Christian values…we were founded on lets take this land from the Indians, and write all these new laws for our new nation that will benefit only a few of the well connected.
Now all that being said…I firmly believe we will get our act together and overcome our stained history and current problems to be a truly great nation not only in words and lip service, but also in deeds…and no I’m not forecasting everyone converting to become Christians….LOL! You know it is possible to reflect and practice Christian values without calling yourself a Christian…someone needs to let Mr.McCain in on this little secret…LOL!

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posted October 11, 2007 at 6:01 am

“You know it is possible to reflect and practice Christian values without calling yourself a Christian
It’s also possible to be a Christian, but not perfectly reflect Christian values. Makes sense, since Christianity is based on faith, not action. Of course, the faith usually leads to action, but the action is the byproduct.
I don’t know why so many people expect us Christians to be perfect when Jesus Himself made it abundantly clear in the Gospel that He came for the sinners and the sick, just like a fireman goes to the house that’s burning rather than the house that’s not.
It’s funny, too, because no one ever applies these standards of perfection to people of other faiths. No one ever picks on a Buddhist for not being a perfect reflection of the Buddha. So why does this come up with Christianity?

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Marilyn Cole

posted October 11, 2007 at 10:11 am

These comments are very true and profund. Thanks to those who took time and thought to wtite them. I consider myself a Christian and certainly don’t always put my beliefs into action. I have a deep respect for Judaism. I attended jewish classes and seriously considered converting because of the truths that were so apparent to me, and because Rebbe Greenstein explained that Judaism is the mother of Christianity. I read from the Torah and Talmed and attempt to follow the values in my daily life. Soemtimes, I look at the lip service fellow Christians give to the Word and we treat each other and those less fortunate. Words are one thing, putting love, peace, charity to others into action. It’s very important to me to look for ways to put acts of loving kindness into action daily. Rabbi Greenstein instilled that into my head. For that his class was worth it all. Thanks Marilyn

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posted October 11, 2007 at 12:42 pm

Mr. Luna seems to be one of those anti-American lefties. America is and has been a great nation. Did the country do some things that were wrong even in the context of the times? Yes, and the treatment of the Indians is a prime example. But instead of grading the U.S. vs. a standard of perfection, compare us to any other country on the planet. We are freer, more tolerant (except for those on the left who can’t tolerate religious people or conservatives and a tiny group of extreme rightwingers) and more prosperous than any other country.
America was clearly founded on Judeo-Christian principles, so in a sense it is a Christian nation, but Thomas Jefferson was a Deist.

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posted October 11, 2007 at 1:57 pm

“I think that Islam can also”
Rabbi Stern, I know you’re better than that. Of COURSE Islam “buys into” the values of love, peace and pluralism. The problem is that a number of people who claim Islam as their religion do not. Unfortunately, this is a human phenomenon, not just an Islamic one. Plenty of people who call themselves Christians, and even Jews, follow the same pattern.

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Randy Ford

posted October 11, 2007 at 4:40 pm

John McCain’s comments concerning the United States being a Christian nation has definitely sparked some interesting viewpoints.
You may or may not agree with everything he says. That’s the point! He’s human – and are we making too much of this?!
I come from a Jewish and Christian background – what he said I took in stride. Our nation was founded on principles of free speech, freedom of religion, and equal rights for all… Let’s be fair – Jewish people in America enjoy the greatest liberties than anywhere else in the world. I am personally more concerned about all Americans doing what is right and once again posessing a spirit of people helping people…

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posted October 12, 2007 at 5:01 pm

Bob said: I don’t know why so many people expect us Christians to be perfect when Jesus Himself …
I say: “BE PERFECT AS YOUR FATHER IS PERFECT” (Matthew 5:48). This was a commandment from the lips of brother Yeshua himself.
It’s very hard to be a Christian, or a Sikh, or a Buddhist, or a Hindu, or a member of any legitimate faith. It’s supposed to be hard.

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posted October 12, 2007 at 7:21 pm

I was very intrigued by “Saadaya’s” comment. It hit home in a way that I cannot find an easy way to put into words (and I am NOT a person ever short of words!!) I couldn’t say it any better or differently, for the simplicity of the last paragraph: “It’s VERY HARD TO BE a Christian, or a Sikh, or a Buddhist, or a Hindu, or a member of any legitimate faith. it’s SUPPOSED TO BE HARD;” is not simplicistic in meaning, but in the wording which when I went to put my comment in, I found myself with Brother Saadaya’s words right above my comment area, and thinking about the best way to put my feelings down. I realise that that paragraph of maybe 20-30 words is exactly how I feel as well, and within me. I find no reason to re-emphasise or re-word what has just been put into a short sentence, yet speaks a million emotions. I have always found it difficult to keep anything that I feel strongly about “short” in length of my commentary or speech, etc., it is something that I cannot put into words short and to the point whilst making my point clear and precise. Thank you.

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