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Old 08-22-2008, 09:30 PM   #1
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Creeping American Theocracy

On the back foot?
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Some Americans are having a change of heart about mixing religion and politics. A new survey finds a narrow majority of the public saying that churches and other houses of worship should keep out of political matters and not express their views on day-to-day social and political matters. For a decade, majorities of Americans had voiced support for religious institutions speaking out on such issues.

The new national survey by the Pew Research Center reveals that most of the reconsideration of the desirability of religious involvement in politics has occurred among conservatives. Four years ago, just 30% of conservatives believed that churches and other houses of worship should stay out of politics. Today, 50% of conservatives express this view. ...

There are other signs in the new poll about a potential change in the climate of opinion about mixing religion and politics. First, the survey finds a small but significant increase since 2004 in the percentage of respondents saying that they are uncomfortable when they hear politicians talk about how religious they are - from 40% to 46%. Again, the increase in negative sentiment about religion and politics is much more apparent among Republicans than among Democrats.

Second, while the Republican Party is most often seen as the party friendly toward religion, the Democratic Party has made gains in this area. Nearly four-in-ten (38%) now say the Democratic Party is generally friendly toward religion, up from just 26% two years ago. Nevertheless, considerably more people (52%) continue to view the GOP as friendly toward religion.
http://people-press.org/report/445/religion-politics
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Old 08-22-2008, 10:57 PM   #2
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The US isn't going to be a theocracy any time soon, the tide has turned, and when it turns, in US politics, it turns big. Don't get in the way of that tide, lest you be swept away and consigned to history. I would not be at all surprised if in ten years' time, it is a great disadvantage to be seen or portrayed as a Christian conservative in US politics.

While I was always wary of the agenda of the Christian right, the agenda of the imperialist neo-cons has always been more worrying to me.

And pretty soon, the Crown Prince of the imperialist neo-cons, Cheney, will be out of office thank {insert deity of choice}.
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Old 08-22-2008, 11:34 PM   #3
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That was one of the things I was most curious to experience first hand in the states, religion in everyday life.
In Germany, if you are religious or not doesn't really matter. It rarely comes up in conversations, it's not an issue when talking politics, almost no one makes it an issue when making a decision or facing something, etc. That clearly goes for Christians more than for Muslims. Though I've met many very moderate Muslims where you could only tell their religion by their skin (or rather, make a safe bet) the number of more conservative Muslims is clearly greater than that of those displaying they are Catholic or Lutheran Protestant.

But when reading this forum or watching or reading any news from the US it was very often about the Religious Right, the interference of religious matters into politics and how religious the US is in general. So going to Montana I really was curious to experience the role of religion. But except those Christian groups on campus so far that was more or less a non-issue. Well, ok, I probably have met the first person in my age bracket that asked about where to attend Catholic service, but that can perfectly well happen anywhere.
And surprisingly many fellow students have voiced they are non-religious, either.

So, time will tell, I guess, how big the difference regarding religion really is.
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Old 08-23-2008, 09:32 AM   #4
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Which theology will be imposed by the state then? Catholicism? Baptism? Is it Pentecostal? Methodist? Black-liberation? Or maybe the Anglicans are gonna have another stab at it.
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Old 08-23-2008, 04:27 PM   #5
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In America.....the "Religious Right" is usually associated with the Evangelical Churches. Especially, the late Jerry Falwell.

I attend a Catholic Church and politics are never discussed. The intentions of Mass are a reverence to God.
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Old 08-23-2008, 07:56 PM   #6
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With conservative christians on the back foot the christian left takes charge, and it is pissing some people off
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The Interfiath Gathering being put on by the Democratic Party on August 24th has upset a significant constituency of the Democratic Party. Not because the event is being held, but because, despite repeated requests for inclusion, no representatives of this group have been invited to speak at the gathering. Who is this constituency? The non-religious.

You may be asking, why would the non-religious want to attend an "Interfaith Gathering", and do they even have any business there anyway?

Firstly, of course the non-religious have business being there. When an organization begins to hold special events for specific "types" of people, this is called discrimination, and this is also a road that leads to the establishment of "in crowds" and "out crowds", "more valued" and "less valued" members, claims of equal that are really separate and not equal. Organizer Leah Daughtry has said that non-religious Democrats are welcome to attend, just not to speak. Apparently we can be seen but not heard. We are told that we can participate in someone else's agenda, but we have no voice of our own.

Secondly, there are many reasons why the non-religious community is very upset about this and why many in the community feel that it is very important to have a speaker at this event.

1) The Bush administration.
The past eight years have galvanized the non-religious community as millions of non-religious Americans have watched in horror as the "Religious-Right" (and we are very aware that the Religious-Right does not represent all religious people) has flexed its muscle in American politics, helped to twice elect a disastrous president, has made repeated attacks on American science education, on women's right to choose, on gay rights, and on the general civility of American political, social, and religious discourse. Give all of these things the non-religious community has overwhelmingly come out in support of the Democratic Party in 2004, in 2006, and now in 2008. Not only this, but the non-religious community is also now increasingly dismayed at the mixing of religion with politics and rightfully interested in making sure that any event such as this is not exclusive of their voice.

2) Building the "Big Tent".
The Democratic Party has said that it wishes to use events such as this to create a "big tent", but this very event is actually making the tent smaller. If we wish to build a "Big Tent" then we have to include everyone, and that includes the non-religious. Exclusive events such as this make the non-religious feel unwelcome in the Democratic Party. Given that non-religious is the second largest "religious identity" in America today behind Christian, this is not a good thing. There are more non-religious Americans than all religious American Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Wiccans, Native American religionists, Hindus, etc. combined. There are over 30 million non-religious Americans, a very significant number of people. The "Big Tent" cannot be built without them.

3) Non-religious still face discrimination.
This event is itself an example of the discrimination that we face today. The Democratic Party bills itself as the party of openness and acceptance and an advocate of civil rights, yet here we are facing discrimination. This despite the fact that many of America's leading civil rights advocates over the centuries have been non-religious, from Thomas Paine (a deist who was against organized religion) to Elizabeth Caddy Stanton (agnostic) to Margaret Sanger (No Gods, No Masters) to Albert Einstein (spiritual atheist and social activist in addition to being a brilliant scientist) and many more. Non-religious Americans have been at the forefront of social justice movements in America since the founding of the country and yet here we still are as outsiders in American politics and indeed American society. Surveys show that the non-religious are still the least trusted and most maligned group in American society, behind racial minorities, homosexuals, and all other religious minorities, yet roughly 1 in 5 Americans is non-religious and essentially everyone lives with, works with, and is friends with non-religious people in America whether they know it or not.

4) "Faith" and values.
Perhaps most importantly, this event was a perfect opportunity to help build bridges between the religious and non-religious community to achieve the harmony that the party needed. The non-religious community realizes that we aren't a majority, that we can't do it alone, that we have to share political space and power with religious partners. Furthermore, the vast majority of non-religious people have every desire to work with the religious community to achieve shared goals and to defend shared values. The non-religious work with religious people all the time, most Americans are religious, if we didn't have shared values and couldn't work with religious people we'd have an awfully hard time. Most non-religious people come from religious families, our parents are religious, are grandparents are religious, our children are religious, our friends, neighbors, and co-workers are religious.

While most non-religious of course do not have faith in a god (some believe in a god but not religion, again think Thomas Paine) many have faith in other things, such as humanity, science, America, freedom, ourselves, heck perhaps even our political party. And we certainly have values, many or all of which are shared with members of religious communities. Indeed we can even acknowledge the impact of religious traditions on our values. Certainly the social justice advocated in the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) and New Testament has been a powerful force in shaping Western society. We can acknowledge that even while not believing in the historical validity or supernatural claims of those writings.

What is public prayer if not a statement of values, beliefs, goals and desires to the community? Events such as this offer the religious a forum to express their desires, values, beliefs, and goals to the community, but give the non-religious no voice to share in the process.

5) Politics is about shared goals and deeds, not beliefs.
Politics, as any good theologian would acknowledge, is an earthly endeavor, an endeavor of "man". Politics is not religion, it does not require that those that we form bonds with and work with and cooperate with share our beliefs. What is important is that we share common goals, objectives, and actions. People, whether they be Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, or atheists all have very different beliefs. Even within any given religion of course people have very different beliefs. We don't have to share the same beliefs in order to live and work together cooperatively, and to develop policy, to support political agendas, to elect people to office, etc. That is, after all, the entire basis of "secularism", a system that allows individuals to hold different personal beliefs without compromising their ability to cooperate in the formation and administration of a political system.

6) Trust.
The message that we get from this Interfaith gathering, and the exclusion of non-religious representation from it, is that the non-religious are not trusted. Likewise, this now erodes trust within the non-religious community of even religious liberals and moderates. The non-religious community essentially assumes that this Interfaith gather is not a gathering of religious conservatives (although an Orthodox Rabbi is the lead speaker). The non-religious community assumes that this is a gathering of liberal and moderate Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc. Therefore we assume that we already have many shared values, and yet the message is that even a gathering of religious liberals and moderates won't have us and doesn't trust us. This certainly doesn't make for party unity. The non-religious community wants to be trusted by religious liberals and moderates, and we want to be able to trust them. This was an opportunity to build such trust and cooperation, but it seems that it will be missed.

Conclusion

Non-religious Democrats have the same goals and objectives as religious Democrats: Elect Barack Obama, end the war in Iraq, improve the American healthcare system, develop a more fair tax system in America, strengthen the American middle class and thus the economy as a whole, advocate for economic justice, advocate for social justice, advocate for women's rights, and advocate for religious freedom, which includes the freedom not to believe and the freedom of others to believe as they wish, without our politicians and government picking sides, choosing favorites, or using their power to impose their beliefs on others.

This is a big issue. If you are not aware, the fact that the non-religious are seeking representation at this event it has been covered by many news organizations, for example:

http://www.gazette.com/articles/conv...nterfaith.html

http://www.commondreams.org/news2008/0730-26.htm

http://www.denverpost.com/commented/...mented-opinion

Non-religious is the fastest growing "religious" identity in America today, it's the second largest "religious" identity in America behind Christian, and we have watched in horror as the Bush administration has trampled the rights of Americans, has waged an illegal and unethical war, has ravaged our legal system, has undermined our economy, and has tarnished America's image around the world, all with the help of the "Evangelical Christian" vote and the "Religious-Right". We have seen the influence of religious leaders behind closed doors in the Republican Party and we certainly do not want to see that repeated in the Democratic Party. Thus, I hope you can understand the significant concern that the non-religious community has when it feels that its voice is being excluded in events such as this.

Thank you,
Coalition of Secular Voters
http://secularvoters.org/blogs/annou...ring-quot.aspx

It's alright though, because democrats only include the good kind of religious influences.

Only one solution

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Old 08-24-2008, 12:33 AM   #7
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That's a cool picture.
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Old 08-26-2008, 02:04 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by INDY500 View Post
Which theology will be imposed by the state then? Catholicism? Baptism? Is it Pentecostal? Methodist? Black-liberation? Or maybe the Anglicans are gonna have another stab at it.
How about seperation between Celebrity and State? But then again, who doesn't understand the nuances of international politics like an alcoholic, high school dropout who happens to play a mean guitar?
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Old 08-26-2008, 08:25 AM   #9
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Which theology will be imposed by the state then? Catholicism? Baptism? Is it Pentecostal? Methodist? Black-liberation? Or maybe the Anglicans are gonna have another stab at it.
"Non-denominational" fundamentalist evangelical Christianity, of course. What other True Christianity™ is there? Certainly not Catholicism. I hear they drink blood!
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Old 08-26-2008, 10:45 AM   #10
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How about seperation between Celebrity and State? But then again, who doesn't understand the nuances of international politics like an alcoholic, high school dropout who happens to play a mean guitar?
Secretary Of State Slash.

I like it.
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Old 08-26-2008, 10:48 AM   #11
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"Non-denominational" fundamentalist evangelical Christianity, of course.
President Rick Warren.

I like that even more.
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Old 08-26-2008, 10:49 AM   #12
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welcome back AEON.
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Old 08-26-2008, 11:46 PM   #13
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welcome back AEON.
Thank you, Irvine.

I hope all is well with you. In browsing the forums I see you've REALLY made a turn to the right. Good to see you come around. lol
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