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Old 01-17-2008, 03:58 PM   #46
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Originally posted by anitram
Some of the world had enacted statutes abolishing slavery before the American Christians realized that maybe it was antithetical to their teachings....
Japan, where slavery was banned in the 16th century, is the only unambiguous 'non-Western' instance of that I'm aware of. There were certainly instances prior to that of slavery being explicitly banned in various 'non-Western' places under certain rulers (for example, Cyrus the Great) only to see it reinstated later. But again, I don't see how this development could be said to inevitably result from Christianity per se; the Christian scriptures show an acceptance of slavery as an institution of their times (yes, I realize one could try to claim a kind of incipient abolitionism based on isolating certain passages, but then the same is true of lots of religions).

As far as the existence of charitable institutions INDY also mentioned, that of course is characteristic of all three Abrahamic faiths, as well as of Hinduism and Buddhism (and doubtless other religions as well, though my own knowledge would fail me at that point).
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Originally posted by maycocksean
Hmmm. . .it's clear to me but hard to explain.

I guess, in my view everyone does--and should--"vote their values" in the sense of voting for what they believe is right or what is best for the country. And I don't think that any Christian should be chastised because their faith informs what they think is right or what is best for the country. I do think it's absurd when it is sometimes suggested that Christians should somehow refuse to allow their beliefs affect how they vote. I do think Christians should be able to differentiate between policies that are beneficial to the country regardless of your faith or lack thereof (policies that help the poor for example or even, some might argue, a pro-life abortion stance) and policies that are specifically designed to legislate your faith (prayer in the schools, ten commandments on the wall). Obviously the difference between these two types of policies can be a little hazy and very much up for debate, but I do think Christians should recognize there is a difference between the two, even if parsing out that difference is difficult.

Using a party to get your religious world view enshrined into law falls under that second category in my mind.

What I see going on with the Religous Right is a sense of entitlement--a sense that this is "our" country and we can't let "them"--you know, the secular humanists etc--take it from us. That seems totally incompatible with the spirit of Christ to me. Christians should vote like everyone else, but our faith teaches that the problems of the world can't soley be solved by the power of "earthly governments." I would expect those who don't believe in God to put a lot more energy and emphasis into forcing their agenda, however well-intentioned, into law because after all--that's all there is from their point of view. Understand, I'm not suggesting Christians shouldn't be involved in taking action or being vocal in what they believe to be right, it's just they should understand that their faith teaches the most important changes can't be made in the halls of Congress or in a court of law.

I'm not sure if I really explained that well, but it's the best I could do right before bedtime
No, that came out perfectly clear! I wasn't asking because I was baffled by your first response, I was asking because this ambuiguity, "parsing out that difference" as you put it, seems to be where a lot of the tensions surrounding this issue (and at times, opportunistic transformations of said ambiguity into obfuscation) creep in, so I was curious to see how you might explain it.

I don't know that I really agree with you about "expect[ing] those who don't believe in God to put a lot more energy and emphasis into forcing their agenda, however well-intentioned, into law because after all--that's all there is from their point of view." At least to the extent that that could be taken to suggest that religious people (perhaps you just meant Christians?) somehow don't have as much justification as others for caring about whether our laws add up to a just society. While understandings of what exactly 'justice' looks like inevitably vary somewhat with time, circumstance and not-necessarily-religious culturally mediated perceptions, my religion, at least, teaches that pursuing that goal is nonetheless morally incumbent on all human beings, regardless of creed. I don't see this as being incompatible with 'Enlightenment' ethics, including the most austerely rationalist ones such as Kantianism or utilitarianism, as they point towards the same thing (and often share the same sounds-great-in-theory,-but-how-do-we-do-it-in-practice implementation problems). Is government on its own an adequate way to pursue that goal, no, but again I don't think anyone really believes it is. One could argue that in a politically ideal world, we'd all make all our political decisions based on careful, rational weighing of the various interests at stake and the likely anticipated outcomes of the various options available, but in reality, all of us also subscribe to much more macro-level 'value systems' of one form or another, which often wind up serving as a kind of 'shorthand' that makes that reasoning process easier (and at times, overtake it more than they should). Which gives rise to the tension between the imperative of individual liberty, on the one hand, and majoritarianism via representation on the other, that always has and always will characterize liberal democracy.
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Originally posted by INDY500
I agree on the importance of not being beholden to any one political party. Unfortunately, we currently only have two viable political parties in this country and one of those fervently supports a procedure that, while I wouldn't make illegal, I feel should be more restricted. So while individual Democrats may get the occasional support of evangelicals (Evan Bayh does just fine here in Jesusland for example), if there's gonna be any mass exodus from the GOP it will be to independent, not Democratic status.
Not sure what your concept of "restrictions" looks like but, assuming you're referring to abortion, I've said several times in here before that I'd support a compromise position of permitting abortions only through the first trimester save for doctor-certified medical reasons, and so far as I could tell most pro-choice posters in here agreed with that. I can certainly see where two (at least) rather formidable social goods are being pitted against each other there, and in my view a compromise position makes more sense than the all-or-nothing take our country has tended towards thus far.

I like Evan Bayh, though I've always gotten the impression that family name recognition is an especially big draw here in the Midwest, and tend to assume that in itself played a big role in him having gotten his foot in the door originally, electorally speaking. In general a very good senator though. I've voted for both him and Lugar, the latter multiple times.
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Old 01-17-2008, 04:00 PM   #47
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Yolland and maycocksean get my vote for most insightful posts.

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Old 01-17-2008, 06:53 PM   #48
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Originally posted by INDY500
I don't accept that.

As I have mentioned, the commandment to "Love thy neighbor as thyself" has compelled Christians to feed, house, clothe and render aid to their fellow humans whether they live down the street, in the next city or on the other side of the globe. There is no Greco-Roman root for charity and compassion to strangers.

Not to minimize the role of the Enlightenment, but equally important in creating the moral foundation for the American Revolution and our founding documents was the First Great Awakening in the mid-1700s. "Inalienable rights endowed by our Creator" isn't really secular thinking is it?

The Second Great Awaking in the early 1800s led to prison reform, women's suffrage and finally to the abolition of slavery. Although it has existed in numerous forms around the planet for as long as records indicate, it was Christian writers, theologians and politicians in Europe and North America that got the slave trade legally banned. And for the most part the world followed our lead.

So we can see that Christianity by it's charity, thought and action has in actuality made a great contribution to the world around it. Along with giving billions of people hope, purpose and a way to make sense of the events in their daily lives.
Well, for one, slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1807, a good 58 years before the U.S.

Secondly, one should be asking what kind of "Christians" were pushing for such freedoms, and, equally important, what kind of Christians were pushing hard to stop it. What we can say is that it wasn't "conservative evangelical Christians" pushing to abolish it; it was those "liberal" Quakers--both in the U.S. and British Empire. And, with that, there is a pretty distinct pattern of liberal, rather than conservative, Christians being at the forefront of civil rights movements. Likewise, we get conservative Christians who are the ones crying "doom and gloom" with any change in the status quo. They were in favor of slavery, racial segregation, and denying women the right to vote.

I bring this all up for one reason: the pattern holds perfectly true today, in terms of gay rights. Conservative Christians are steadfastly opposed to it, claiming "doom and gloom" with any mention of gay rights, whereas more liberal Christians are in favor of it. Give it another few decades, I'm sure, and eventually "all Christians" will try and take credit for advancing gay rights, as well, even if only a small fraction actually deserve the credit for it.

Christianity, unfortunately, has served as a double-edged sword. We have the bulk of Christianity, which seems to serve as a reactionary, traditionalist force that runs contrary to progress, while we have a small minority of progressive Christians that are, very slowly, able to move religion forward. I guess I should give credit where it is due, but I also wish to outline the fact that many parts of Christianity work very hard to retard progress and deny rights, as well, in the name of "tradition."
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Old 01-17-2008, 09:36 PM   #49
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A local morning Christian talk show radio host, here South Carolina, has openly indorsed Huckabee, mainly because he is a Baptist.

He has avoided being critical of George Bush and what I see, as a Libertarian, the erosion of personal liberty and the growth of big government.
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Old 01-17-2008, 11:41 PM   #50
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon


Well, for one, slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1807, a good 58 years before the U.S.


For accuracy's sake, 1807 is when the Empire banned slave trade (importing), which the U.S. did one year later in 1808. Abolition didn't occur until the mid-1830s in the British Empire and the mid-1860s in the U.S.
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Secondly, one should be asking what kind of "Christians" were pushing for such freedoms, and, equally important, what kind of Christians were pushing hard to stop it. What we can say is that it wasn't "conservative evangelical Christians" pushing to abolish it; it was those "liberal" Quakers--both in the U.S. and British Empire. And, with that, there is a pretty distinct pattern of liberal, rather than conservative, Christians being at the forefront of civil rights movements. Likewise, we get conservative Christians who are the ones crying "doom and gloom" with any change in the status quo. They were in favor of slavery, racial segregation, and denying women the right to vote.

I bring this all up for one reason: the pattern holds perfectly true today, in terms of gay rights. Conservative Christians are steadfastly opposed to it, claiming "doom and gloom" with any mention of gay rights, whereas more liberal Christians are in favor of it. Give it another few decades, I'm sure, and eventually "all Christians" will try and take credit for advancing gay rights, as well, even if only a small fraction actually deserve the credit for it.

Christianity, unfortunately, has served as a double-edged sword. We have the bulk of Christianity, which seems to serve as a reactionary, traditionalist force that runs contrary to progress, while we have a small minority of progressive Christians that are, very slowly, able to move religion forward. I guess I should give credit where it is due, but I also wish to outline the fact that many parts of Christianity work very hard to retard progress and deny rights, as well, in the name of "tradition."
Well, I'd just soon not get into the labeling of Christians as this or that. I understand your point, but modern definitions like "conservative evangelical Christians" simply don't apply to Europe in 1800.
As for the United States; having Puritan roots and having had two great revivals, couldn't it be said that American Christianity as a whole was (and still is) more "conservative" than that found in Europe. Yet the movement to abolish slavery was just as strong here. Women's suffrage occurred here at the same time it occurred in England. Yes abolishing slavery took longer in the United States, but doesn't that have more to do with our Federalist system of government and the economic concerns of the South than any "doom and gloom" theology?
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Old 01-18-2008, 02:27 AM   #51
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Originally posted by yolland




I don't know that I really agree with you about "expect[ing] those who don't believe in God to put a lot more energy and emphasis into forcing their agenda, however well-intentioned, into law because after all--that's all there is from their point of view."
Eh, that's okay. I'm not sure I agree with me either. . .

Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
At least to the extent that that could be taken to suggest that religious people (perhaps you just meant Christians?) somehow don't have as much justification as others for caring about whether our laws add up to a just society.
No, I wasn't meaning to suggest that religious people (including Christians) have an excuse to not care as much. It's just that believers should, perhaps fall less prey to the discouragement that can come from thinking--geez, how are we ever going to solve the world's problems--because they have a larger view of how that might eventually happen then just depending on the efforts of our own humanity. I guess I was saying Christians should be the last, not the first, to be forcing their view of utopia through the legislative halls, as our theology teaches that such a utopia won't be accomplished by human means. I realize that sets up the possible danger of apathy (the "oh, God'll come and set it all to rights one day, so back to the TV") but then at the same time our theology also teaches that people so apathetic about the needs of our fellow human beings won't be a part of that coming utopia anyway. It's one of those paradoxical things I guess.
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Old 01-18-2008, 02:33 AM   #52
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Originally posted by melon


And, with that, there is a pretty distinct pattern of liberal, rather than conservative, Christians being at the forefront of civil rights movements. Likewise, we get conservative Christians who are the ones crying "doom and gloom" with any change in the status quo. They were in favor of slavery, racial segregation, and denying women the right to vote.

I think this is because--and I'm making no value judgements here-- the very definition of conservatism whether religious, political, or economic is essentially a cautious approach to change and perhaps a preference for the status quo. If you're conservative, in a sense you can't really claim owning the radical social changes of the past--if you had the same conservative sensibility back then you probably wouldn't have supported them. In fact some (a lot of influential thinkers in my denomination--which is conservative--for example) would argue that the church shouldn't be on the forefront of radical social movements no matter how worthy. Quiet support is okay, but being right out on the barricades not so much. The idea being that it might distract from the "more important mission of spreading the gospel."

Brilliant posts by the way, Melon.
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