Relationship between Christian beliefs, ignorance and Politics

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    Sep 19, 2009 8:15 PM GMT
    One of the first things christian children and converted adults are taught is to trust and obey, not to question the "word of god". Catholics have a saying that goes something like "give me a child until age 12 and he/she will be a Catholic the rest of their lives" not always true, but there does seem to be some truth to the statement among religions Christian or others. As I've observed through life its becoming more and more apparent that religious people are far more likely to 'trust and obey' whatever their preachers or polititians tell them as long as the 'word of god' is invoked. As long as they are told its so they seem to buy into it without question, little or no self exploration of the facts. (for instance death panels, or the birthers movement) Is it the Christian belief system of "trust and obey" that drives them to remain in ignorance at the peril of their own interests? (Example-== After all isn't it in their own interests to question some government taking their sons and daughters to war whether or not that government says God is on our side. this phenomena is by no means new in societies though either) There's many more examples of christians jumping on and claiming as their own, whats told them by pliticians claiming the christian montra, its not a problem only among christian right republicans but its much more prevalent. I've read of many moderate republicans who are concerned that this christian right dogma of intolerance has taken over the party to its own detriment. Take a look at this weekends agenda for the Republican Value Voters Conference, On the agenda is the "new Masculinity, and a topic on tharting the Homosexual agenda in our public schools. These topics and discussions are alarmingly devisive to say the least, and yet many of our own gay friends here on RJ back this party of Republican Politics against their own interests also. Is the Christian value of "trust and and obey" behind Chrstian gays backing republicans too? Religion and its affect on Politics is a dangerous mixture in my mind both now and historicly. What do you think?
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    Sep 20, 2009 12:50 AM GMT
    realifedad said One of the first things christian children and converted adults are taught is to trust and obey, not to question the "word of god". Catholics have a saying that goes something like "give me a child until age 12 and he/she will be a Catholic the rest of their lives" not always true, but there does seem to be some truth to the statement among religions Christian or others. As I've observed through life its becoming more and more apparent that religious people are far more likely to 'trust and obey' whatever their preachers or polititians tell them as long as the 'word of god' is invoked. As long as they are told its so they seem to buy into it without question, little or no self exploration of the facts. (for instance death panels, or the birthers movement) Is it the Christian belief system of "trust and obey" that drives them to remain in ignorance at the peril of their own interests? (Example-== After all isn't it in their own interests to question some government taking their sons and daughters to war whether or not that government says God is on our side. this phenomena is by no means new in societies though either) There's many more examples of christians jumping on and claiming as their own, whats told them by pliticians claiming the christian montra, its not a problem only among christian right republicans but its much more prevalent. I've read of many moderate republicans who are concerned that this christian right dogma of intolerance has taken over the party to its own detriment. Take a look at this weekends agenda for the Republican Value Voters Conference, On the agenda is the "new Masculinity, and a topic on tharting the Homosexual agenda in our public schools. These topics and discussions are alarmingly devisive to say the least, and yet many of our own gay friends here on RJ back this party of Republican Politics against their own interests also. Is the Christian value of "trust and and obey" behind Chrstian gays backing republicans too? Religion and its affect on Politics is a dangerous mixture in my mind both now and historicly. What do you think?


    Indoctrination / brainwashing / forced conformance into false belief systems often preys upon the fresh minds of the young and innocent. It's a plague to civilization. Hitler understood it. Most religions use it all the time. Hopefully, at some point, young minds won't be tainted as so many are now, but, it has taken, and will take, a long time yet. We can only hope for that day.
  • dantoujours

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    Sep 20, 2009 1:03 AM GMT
    I am an Episcopalian Christian and your characterature of "religious people/Christians" doesn't describe my experience at all and wouldn't for members of mainline Protestantism (Episcopalians, ELCA Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, UCC, Quakers, etc.) and most lay Catholics.

    Whenever two Episcopalians discuss doctrine, the so-called "Word of God" and pretty much anything religion related you'll get at least three opinions. We don't put our trust in an interpretation of the Bible, a religious leader or anything. We think for ourselves and often come to different conclusions, which are embraced.

    You've painted a pretty simplistic characterature of religious people, but I think if you scratch the surface you'll find that it doesn't apply to many, outside of the most right-wing.

    There was a column by David Gibson in "Politics Daily" where he points out that there are as many Christians and other people of faith in the Democratic Party as in the Republican Party. We tend to keep a lower profile because we don't use our faith as a weapon and tend to cooperate with people of other faiths or no faith at all, but it doesn't mean that our faith isn't important to us. Many of us care about liberal causes (universal healthcare, poverty reduction, environmental responsibility, gay rights, justice for undocumented immigrants, women and minorities, etc.) precisely because we believe our faith tells us to.

    http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/09/18/the-god-gap-between-republicans-and-democrats-closed-values/


    On the top of accepting gays, mainline Christians tend to be more gay friendly than the general population.

    See: http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1159/homosexuality-protestant-view
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    Sep 20, 2009 1:08 AM GMT
    Yes religious people do act like sheep.
  • dantoujours

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    Sep 20, 2009 1:11 AM GMT
    Some do. But some secular people do in different ways as well. It's human nature to be lazy and let others think for them.
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    Sep 20, 2009 1:34 AM GMT
    I am an Episcopalian Christian and your characterature of "religious people/Christians" doesn't describe my experience at all and wouldn't for members of mainline Protestantism (Episcopalians, ELCA Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, UCC, Quakers, etc.) and most lay Catholics.

    Whenever two Episcopalians discuss doctrine, the so-called "Word of God" and pretty much anything religion related you'll get at least three opinions. We don't put our trust in an interpretation of the Bible, a religious leader or anything. We think for ourselves and often come to different conclusions, which are embraced.

    It's a pretty convenient characterature of religious people, but I think if you scratch the surface you'll find that it doesn't apply to many, outside of the most right-wing.




    I'm not so sure about any of that. For example, there are some Presbyterian and Methodist churches that I would hardly call "mainline." In fact, they embrace fundamentalist doctrine as readily as Baptists. I remember visiting (several times) a large Presbyterian church in a well-to-do suburb of supposedly cosmopolitan St. Louis -- and discovering their belief system was as backward as the low-income, working class fundamentalist Baptist church that I attended years earlier as a child. (And a hell of a lot more mean-spirited.)

    Re: your assertion that Episcopalian discussion of doctrine often leads to varying opinions and conclusions: I wonder if any of these discussions ever question the existence of God, the rationality of the Bible, or the cruelty of hell. Do they? I hope so. But if not, try it at your next Episcopalian klatch and see what kind of reception you get from the brethern.

    Re: "scratching the surface" to discover religious people are not Borg-like individuals who think, talk and act about the same (at least when they're around each other): I'm sure there are exceptions, but I've more than scratched that surface, and it turns out the same nearly every time. I think this is one "caricature" that's not an exaggeration.


  • dantoujours

    Posts: 378

    Sep 20, 2009 1:41 AM GMT
    If you have scratched the surface as you say you'll know that mainline denominations are all over the map. Most are more liberal than the general American population but every mainline denomination has a conservative wing and you can certainly find a few right-wing churches in every group.

    Re: your assertion that Episcopalian discussion of doctrine often leads to varying opinions and conclusions: I wonder if any of these discussions ever question the existence of God, the rationality of the Bible, or the cruelty of hell. Do they? I hope so. But if not, try it at your next Episcopalian klatch and see what kind of reception you get from the brethern.

    Of course we have these discussions all the time. I would venture to say that almost all Episcopalians accept the existence of God, otherwise what's the point of worship and membership? But we are all over the map on what the Bible is: including which parts are historical and which are mythic; and on doctrines like hell. We discuss and often agree to disagree. This is a denomination that had John Spong as Bishop (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Shelby_Spong ), who questioned most main Christian doctrines and V Gene Robinson, a gay bishop whose theology is more traditional.


    So it doesn't sound like you have scratched the surface much at all icon_sad.gif



  • lostlogic

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    Sep 20, 2009 1:51 AM GMT
    Interesting that you mentioned this. I was channel surfing and landed on a Christian broadcasting network where the commentary was criticizing media biases and secularism (yet he praised FOX News for their coverage of the "important event" of the tea party demonstrations). Then I switched to CNN which had a special on Afghanistan. They were showing the Afghan version of American Idol, its star from last year and his rallying for the more democratic presidential nominee. Then they showed the religious right and Taliban supporters criticizing the secular and their "sin." It's pretty much the same fight here, isn't it?
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    Sep 20, 2009 2:03 AM GMT
    If you have scratched the surface as you say you'll know that mainline denominations are all over the map

    Well, that's part of my point. If mainline denominations are all over the map, they can hardly be characterized as "mainline." They're simply -- all over the map. As said, some Presbyterians, Methodists, are every bit as fundamentalist as Baptists, Church of Christ, Assembly of God, et al.

    That said, it is nice to hear that you guys actually discuss what parts of the Bible are complete bullshit. Those must be some really lengthy discussions. When you're finally done, is there anything left?
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    Sep 20, 2009 2:04 AM GMT
    lostlogic saidInteresting that you mentioned this. I was channel surfing and landed on a Christian broadcasting network where the commentary was criticizing media biases and secularism (yet he praised FOX News for their coverage of the "important event" of the tea party demonstrations). Then I switched to CNN which had a special on Afghanistan. They were showing the Afghan version of American Idol, its star from last year and his rallying for the more democratic presidential nominee. Then they showed the religious right and Taliban supporters criticizing the secular and their "sin." It's pretty much the same fight here, isn't it?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Yes Yes Yes !!!! I watched the same program and was struck by the same thing. The narrator mentioned how the talaban would have their country (through their religious beliefs) return to the way things were several centuries ago. If the religious right in our country had their way they would have the same result of turning back progress here in the USA, including the social security safety net. Perhaps you agree with me then when I call them the Christian Talaban
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    Sep 20, 2009 2:14 AM GMT
    There is a major difference between conservative (fundamentalist) and liberal Christians. I think you are right on for conservative Christians: they tend to accept whatever their Church leaders tell them. Conservative Christians value tradition and are very slow to change. They are unlikely to question Church teachings. Liberal Christians, however, tend to value the changing nature of religion: they tend to question how religious teachings fit in the modern context (e.g., science). Moderate Christians are somewhere between: accepting somethings without question and questioning others.
  • dantoujours

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    Sep 20, 2009 2:19 AM GMT
    Well, that's part of my point. If mainline denominations are all over the map, they can hardly be characterized as "mainline." They're simply -- all over the map. As said, some Presbyterians, Methodists, are every bit as fundamentalist as Baptists, Church of Christ, Assembly of God, et al.

    It doesn't sound like you are familiar with the term "Mainline Denominations" (See: [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mainline_%28Protestant%29[/url].) I am using it as their historical name. That was a term used for the older historic denominations whose members formed the historic mainstream of American society and politics. Most American Presidents, Congresspeople and Justices were Episcopalian, Presbyterian and Methodist. That is where the term comes from.

    You're not paying attention to my point. I am saying that a very very small percentage of Presbyterians and Methodists are every bit as fundamentalist as Baptists (and I assume you are talking about Southern and Independent Baptists because there are liberal Baptists too), church of Christ etc.

    The fact that they remain part of mainline denominations shows that we can agree to disagree.

    That said, it is nice to hear that you guys actually discuss what parts of the Bible are complete bullshit. Those must be some really lengthy discussions.

    We don't think any of the Bible is "complete bullshit". This shows a complete misunderstanding of how ancient people communicated truth. There are parts of the Bible that are mythic and non factual and parts of the Bible that are historical. There are parts of the Bible that reflect how the ancient Hebrews regarded themselves and God which we reject for good reasons, and parts of the Bible that reflect profound truths that challenge us to this day. But none of it is complete bullshit. It all has value in different ways. Some of it is useful to us today and some of us gives us insight to an ancient culture.

    When you're finally done, is there anything left?


    Abso-bloody-lutely!!! Have you actually read the Bible? It sounds like you haven't.

    There's stuff like this:

    "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you only love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be compassionate, therefore, as your heavenly Father is compassionate.

    "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.


    ...and...

    "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

    and many many many other things: proverbs, parables, Paul's letters, etc etc full of wisdom... certainly enough to keep me reading it in a 3 year cycle.

    It's just too bad so many Christians don't pay attention to stuff like this.

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    Sep 20, 2009 2:26 AM GMT
    We don't think any of the Bible is "complete bullshit".


    Then you're not discussing it enough.
  • dantoujours

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    Sep 20, 2009 2:27 AM GMT
    Of course we are. You're still not actually engaging with my responses. So what's the point of continuing with someone who isn't interesting in discussing this in good faith?

    But it goes to show that it isn't just religious people who have closed minds.
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    Sep 20, 2009 2:31 AM GMT
    realifedad said Catholics have a saying that goes something like "give me a child until age 12 and he/she will be a Catholic the rest of their lives"

    How true. Voltaire was educated by Jesuits and on his deathbed accepted the last rites of the Catholic Church. His comment on the situation: "Is this a time to make enemies?"
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    Sep 20, 2009 2:34 AM GMT
    The Bible is only complete bullshit if you view it as "written" by God as an end all to all questions. If, however, you view the Bible as written by men within a social/historical context there is a lot that can be gained from it. For example the Bible shows how those ancient people understood their place in the universe, and also exposes some of their prejudices.
    As dantougours rightly points out these ancient people had several "good" teachings. They also, much like the U.S. founding fathers, had limitations which caused them to accept horrible things such as slavery.
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    Sep 20, 2009 2:56 AM GMT
    Actually, I gave Christianity every chance.

    I was brought up in the Episcopalian faith. Then--still as a child, and on my own--I spent several years in the Baptist church. As an adult I visited many churches of various denominations and read as much of the Bible as I could stand, along with numerous other religious books. I discussed these issues with ministers and laypersons. I prayed every morning and every night and a dozen times in-between.

    All of that for a couple of decades--reading the Bible, going to church, et al--is what ultimately convinced me that the whole thing is crap. Not agnostic college professors or a closed mind. To me, nothing is more unconvincing--or less believable--than the Bible. It took a while for me to realize that, because of the endless psychologial and societal pressures to accept this B.S.

    Honestly, I can't imagine anything more empty than the Christian faith. It's totally fear-based. Take the promise of heaven and the threat of hell out of it, and nobody would follow it.

    That's why it turns my stomach when religious people start babbling about how open they are. Sure, there are some. Usually they encounter all sorts of grief for it (i.e., the aformentioned Gene Robinson).

    Read Mother Teresa's account--her diaries, in her own words--of her doubts, despair and pain regarding her "relationship" with God--a relationship that seemed non-existent to her for decades, up until the day she died. She's one of the few with the courage to acknowledge it.

    To quote Thomas Edison: "Religion is all bunk." Now there's a topic for your next klatch.
  • dantoujours

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    Sep 20, 2009 3:17 AM GMT
    Honestly, I can't imagine anything more empty than the Christian faith. It's totally fear-based. Take the promise of heaven and the threat of hell out of it, and nobody would follow it.

    HA! Lots of Christians, including myself, are completely agnostic when it comes to an afterlife. I don't know whether heaven or hell exists. At death I may close my eyes for a sleep from which I never awake. That isn't why I am a Christian. I have been an Episcopalian my whole life and never sat through a discussion on heaven or hell. I certainly don't know anyone in mainline/liberal Christianity who's motivated by this.

    Secondly, there are all kinds of different viewpoints on what heaven and hell are, even for those who embrace them. The ones I have come across in both ancient writings and modern discussions are are:

    * Hell is an eternal place of eternal conscious torment for the damned
    * Hell might be eternal, but the torment isn't (i.e., the damned are eventually annihilated)
    * Neither Hell nor its torments are eternal, only temporary (Hell and its contents are redeemed)
    * Hell is only permanent for those who are not eventually purified of their sin (i.e., it acts as Purgatory for some, à la C. S. Lewis' "The Great Divorce")
    * No humans end up in Hell at all: unbelievers are annihilated either on death or shortly thereafter.
    * Everyone ends up directly in Heaven irrespective of their life or beliefs.

    If you honestly believe that the Bible is full of B.S. (as you put it) while missing the nuance, and that Christians are only motivated because of an affterlife, again I can only conclude that you didn't scratch the surface as you say and perhaps you are just not fully aware of that. Do you really think the Sermon on the Mount or Matthew 25 or Paul's statement on love is B.S.? Really? Wow.

    Again, I am sorry that you had a bad experience. What I find REALLY puzzling is your continued assertion that all Christians think the same way, have the same beliefs or are motivated by the same fears and desires. It just isn't like that, and for all your talk about in-depth church experience and Bible study it's very apparent to me that you never stepped out of one narrow version of Christianity and explored the enormous diversity in Biblical interpretation, doctrine and practise across Christendom. There are non-authoritarian versions of Christianity which are not fear based and where diversity is accepted. The fact that you obviously never discovered them doesn't mean that are non-existent.

    If you recall from Scripture itself, Jesus, the disciples and St Paul all had doubts, despair, pain and times when God seemed remote and non-existent. That is normal. Mother Theresa wasn't that courageous when she wrote about it (though she was a very courageous woman). Many have written about "the dark night of the soul". BTW, Edison was a deist, not an atheist See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Edison#Views_on_politics.2C_religion_and_metaphysics

    Finally yes, we have had discussions on the value of religion and will continue to. We obviously think it has value otherwise we wouldn't bother. Why is it so hard for you to accept that others may have thought about this just as deeply as you have but come to different conclusions?
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    Sep 20, 2009 3:46 AM GMT
    The liberal Christians I know seem mostly concerned with the social gospel. You know the whole feeding and clothing the poor, taking care of the sick, etc. They also rarely seem to talk about "hell" or other things fundamentalist just can't shut up about. Liberal Christians rarely ditch other faiths or non-theists, again unlike more Fundamentalist Christians. Secular Liberals and Liberal Christians share a lot of the same political/social beliefs: teaching sound science in schools, pro-choice, acceptance of homosexuality, women rights, social programs for the poor, etc. Just what is your problem with such Christians? Secularist liberals should work with Liberal Christians - even if we don't always agree with their overall Christian tradition. I would take a Liberal Christian over an "all I care about is my money" Conservative atheist anyday.
  • jrs1

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    Sep 20, 2009 3:53 AM GMT

    you may be a religious figure, mathematician, nerf ball zealot, squash connoisseur, african zulu man ... you may be just about anything you'd like ... but understanding rather than blind belief must maintain a homeostatic balance.
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    Sep 20, 2009 4:00 AM GMT
    I guess that qualifies me as a liberal christian. I don't have to believe what it says in Psalms, that the only way for a woman to god is through a man, or that the plagues etc in the bible will be afflicted upon those that 'add or remove' from the bible. That happened a good 700 years ago creating the apocryphas. The book was written inspired by god. A big difference once I got to that.
    So far, so good.
    Believe in hell? No more so than I'd believe the earth is flat, because god that I've come to understand has a lot more compassion than I.


    ...I suppose I should don the flame war armour for this..lol.

    -Doug
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    Sep 20, 2009 1:32 PM GMT
    jprichva saidI don't think the Bible is useless. As theology, yes, it's pretty silly.
    But as a record of the anxieties of a primitive nomadic people, and the solutions they invented to assuage their fears, it's fairly interesting.

    Don't underestimate its power as a work of literature. Over the centuries it has inspired, consoled, and strengthened millions of readers of all levels of belief and unbelief. It contains much practical wisdom very beautifully expressed. Because it used to be such a major part of the daily lives of practically everyone its phrases and proverbs are still omnipresent in our culture.
    Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
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    Sep 20, 2009 1:53 PM GMT
    TexDef07> Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater

    It's just that some people try to drown you in the bathwater, claiming it's the baby....
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    Sep 20, 2009 1:57 PM GMT
    Unless you want your bathwater to be a bubbling oozing cesspool of toxic waste, throw out the baby.
    Itsalive.jpg
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Sep 20, 2009 2:21 PM GMT
    Yes there are very good and very well-intentioned religious people in this world

    But when you come down out it
    The BASIS for any organized religion is exclusionary
    That the man in the sky has a special relationship with me and everyone else who believes as I do
    and the rest of you don't
    and that don't can mean .... well you don't Understand or that you are a blasphemer and you should be put to death for what you believe

    They are Spiritual restricted Country Clubs