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Old 12-12-2005, 02:41 PM   #1
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President Carter -The Presidency And Faith

http://www.usatoday.com/printedition...lede10.art.htm

"All Christians will remember Jesus' admonition to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's,” and Thomas Jefferson advised us to build a wall between church and state. Commensurate with this historic restraint, most Americans have considered it proper for private citizens to influence public policy, but not for a religious group to align itself with a political party or attempt to control the processes of a democratic government. Neither has it been considered proper for public officials to interfere in religious affairs or to use public persuasion, laws or tax revenue to favor certain religious institutions.

While maintaining these barriers between religion and politics, America's political leaders can exemplify commitments to peace, economic and political justice, the alleviation of suffering and the enhancement of human rights."
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Old 12-12-2005, 02:47 PM   #2
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Why is it that most groups can align themselves with a political party or attempt to control the processes of a democratic government, but a religious group should not? (Aside from the desired result of some that religion never leave a church).

This is far from the establishment of a state religion, and impinges on the free speech of religious bodies.
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Old 12-12-2005, 02:52 PM   #3
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Originally posted by nbcrusader
Why is it that most groups can align themselves with a political party or attempt to control the processes of a democratic government, but a religious group should not? (Aside from the desired result of some that religion never leave a church).

This is far from the establishment of a state religion, and impinges on the free speech of religious bodies.


then churches should give up their tax-exempt status, for starters. churches can exercise all the free political free speech they want -- they will just cease to be churches as we currently understand them, and if you talk to people in southeastern Ohio which was just plagued by gay marriages in late 2004, then many of these churches have become PACs themselves.

but, really, just what are you talking about? churches and religious groups make political statements and wield political influence ALL THE TIME and they get government hand-outs in the form of "faith-based initiatives" that often become little more than hand-outs for prosthetyzing activities.

American Christians are, by far, the best protected, most well-cared for, most coddled members of any religion anywhere on earth.
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Old 12-12-2005, 03:04 PM   #4
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The First Amendment:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

Define "free exercise". If it means acting on the integrity of your belief system, which is what it means for many who follow their faith (no matter what religion), then there's a conflict here somewhere...
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Old 12-12-2005, 03:26 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by nathan1977
The First Amendment:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

Define "free exercise". If it means acting on the integrity of your belief system, which is what it means for many who follow their faith (no matter what religion), then there's a conflict here somewhere...


how and where is the first amendment being violated?

please elucidate or give an example of this conflict, for i fail to see one at this point.

if churches want to give up their tax exempt status and function as political organizations, they are free to do so.

fortunately, many of them have found ways to do this through the creation of groups like Focus on the Family, the Concerned Women for America, and many other groups that use the "i am telling you to do something because God told me to tell you to do some thing" line of logic in order to get their followers to vote in a particular manner. this is, i think, what Carter was talking about. it's one thing for someone to examine their belief system every time they vote; it's quite another for pamphlets delinating where the candidates stand on issues and how one should vote if one is a member of a particular religion.
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Old 12-12-2005, 03:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by nathan1977
The First Amendment:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

Define "free exercise". If it means acting on the integrity of your belief system, which is what it means for many who follow their faith (no matter what religion), then there's a conflict here somewhere...
The problem in "acting on the integrity of your belief system" arises when one thinks that other people should (or must) subscribe to the same belief system. Unfortunately, many people who act out of a religioun-based belief system--and it seems like there are increasing numbers of such people gaining and using political power in the US today--appear to believe that their belief systems are "correct" and that other belief systems are not. (Of course, right? If you think that your beliefs are what "God" "wants," then surely your beliefs must be "right." (wrong.) ).

If you truly believe in and practice biblical principles (or principles of most religions, for that matter), then you would understand the importance and necessity of recognizing, accepting, and respecting (not simply "tolerating") the existence and exercise of other belief systems. If, instead, you choose to champion the portions of religious texts that promote the closed-minded ideals of political figures or societies from a few thousand years ago, then go ahead and live believing that your own ideas are the absolute truth, just as those other figures did.

Essentially, a free society must balance both the "Freedom To" and the "Freedom From"----your freedom to exercise your beliefs, and my freedom from being subjected to your beliefs. It is the safety of people's right to a "freedom from"---and, ultimately, the "freedom to"---that is preserved by keeping religion out of politics.
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Old 12-12-2005, 03:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
then churches should give up their tax-exempt status, for starters. churches can exercise all the free political free speech they want -- they will just cease to be churches as we currently understand them, and if you talk to people in southeastern Ohio which was just plagued by gay marriages in late 2004, then many of these churches have become PACs themselves.
I would support examination and revocation of any charitable organization that engages in impermissable political advocacy. For the most part, however, churches (and there are tens of thousands of them) do not engage in political advocacy.
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Old 12-12-2005, 04:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Utoo
Essentially, a free society must balance both the "Freedom To" and the "Freedom From"----your freedom to exercise your beliefs, and my freedom from being subjected to your beliefs. It is the safety of people's right to a "freedom from"---and, ultimately, the "freedom to"---that is preserved by keeping religion out of politics.
Actually, you are dead wrong on this. If we engage this idea to be "free from" expressions of belief, we would completely erase the concept of free speech.

Beliefs influence politics from all angles. Parties are developed to express beliefs, whether on a broad basis, or to advance a very narrow set of beliefs.
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Old 12-12-2005, 04:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader


I would support examination and revocation of any charitable organization that engages in impermissable political advocacy. For the most part, however, churches (and there are tens of thousands of them) do not engage in political advocacy.


so what's your question then?

in the past, the Catholic Church was aligned with the Democrats and Southern Baptists are aligned with the GOP, though that arises more from church culture than directives from the pulpit (with exceptions, i'm sure).

what is the violation of your freedom of expression of religion?
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Old 12-12-2005, 04:22 PM   #10
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I guess your question would be for Jimmy Carter.
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Old 12-12-2005, 04:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
I guess your question would be for Jimmy Carter.


i understand what Jimmy Carter is saying.

i don't understand where your question came from? how did Jimmy Carter prompt that?

nor do i understand what is upsetting Nathan1977.
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Old 12-12-2005, 04:34 PM   #12
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My question was posted as my initial reply. Carter is making a statement, but does not explain why religious beliefs should be singled out for exclusion from the political process.
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Old 12-12-2005, 04:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader


Actually, you are dead wrong on this. If we engage this idea to be "free from" expressions of belief, we would completely erase the concept of free speech.

Beliefs influence politics from all angles. Parties are developed to express beliefs, whether on a broad basis, or to advance a very narrow set of beliefs.
While I agree with your statement on parties, I disagree with your first statement. I don't see the world in such clear black and white. The principles behind a "freedom to" and a "freedom from" are interrelated. The right to express either, and perhaps the inherent principle behind the arguments of freedom and free speech, etc., is due to choice--perhaps one of the most discussed biblical dilemmas, if we want to speak in terms of religion here. One has the opportunity to choose to express his or her opinions publicly, and one has the opportunity to choose not to listen---the first person exercising "freedom to," and the second exercising "freedom from."

I absolutely agree that if the "freedom from" becomes "my freedom from you expressing yourself at all" instead of one's own freedom to not listen, then the "freedom from" has gone too far---it has quashed the "freedom to." This does not have to happen just to respect the "freedom from"---notice the distinction I have made-----the change goes from exercising the "freedom from" by one's own act (not listening) to silencing another's act (expressing oneself). If this leap is not made, then a "freedom from" can be safely respected and supported without harming the "freedom to"--free speech, etc.

The people who exercise "freedom to" can just as easily quash the "freedom from." This, unfortunately, is the very potential dilemma when religious groups & others who strongly believe that their one way is "right" have such enormous sway in politics, as we are seeing today. The "freedom to"---free speech, the right to practice one's beliefs, etc.---is fine & wonderful when it remains one's own "freedom to." However, when one's own expressed values become enacted into law, by which all must abide, then that person's "freedom to" has thus quashed others' "freedom from" practicing the first person's beliefs.

True, this happens all the time in politics & law. People are made to follow rules that they may not want to in order to make society function. This is fine & dandy when the rules are practical in nature. The problem arises when the rules become faith-based in nature or are based on one group's particular "moral values." This is when my right to a "freedom to" express my moral values----equal to my "freedom from" me expressing your moral values----becomes jeapordized, as you have made your moral values law.

As I said, a free society has the enormous burden of protecting both the freedom to & the freedom from. While difficult, the balance can and must be made.

You'll note that I say "unfortunately" in my 3rd paragraph because I do recognize that a good deal of values and moral beliefs that are based in faith or spirituality are pretty good, positive values. There are those, however, that are not (IMO, of course, as some believe in them). The problem comes when any of these beliefs are forced---especially by law---on those who may not want to subscribe to them.
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Old 12-12-2005, 04:40 PM   #14
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Originally posted by Irvine511




i understand what Jimmy Carter is saying.

i don't understand where your question came from? how did Jimmy Carter prompt that?

nor do i understand what is upsetting Nathan1977.
I don't recall saying I was upset.

Just posing another question.
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Old 12-12-2005, 04:51 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Utoo
The people who exercise "freedom to" can just as easily quash the "freedom from." This, unfortunately, is the very potential dilemma when religious groups & others who strongly believe that their one way is "right" have such enormous sway in politics, as we are seeing today. The "freedom to"---free speech, the right to practice one's beliefs, etc.---is fine & wonderful when it remains one's own "freedom to." However, when one's own expressed values become enacted into law, by which all must abide, then that person's "freedom to" has thus quashed others' "freedom from" practicing the first person's beliefs.
I understand where you are going, but this may be as much, or more of a problem for the listener, than the speaker.

I would guess that every one of us believes that their way is the "right" way. If I believed someone else's way was the "right" way, would it not be the rational choice to adopt their way, instead of maintaining my own "not right" way?

As for enactment into law, I think we've created a false dilemma to suggest that if a law is enacted, and it mirrors the religious beliefs of a group, then the law must be religiously motivated. The "religious right" represents a minority in this country. Yet, many laws supported by the religious right also get support from other groups. It could be easily argued that the law enacted is not imposition of one person's religious belief, but the enactment of a general belief shared by a larger group of people. For example, the Bible says, "do not steal". We would not consider an anti-theft law a religious law. It has a far broader appeal. And we can incorporate moral values into our laws without creating a religious law.

To adopt a “freedom from” approach is a dangerous principle if you are willing to treat it as a guiding principle. Otherwise, it becomes a subjective tool to say, “keep your religion out of politics” which seems to be the Carter’s statement.
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