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Old 12-17-2007, 02:54 PM   #1
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"it's perfectly reasonable to reject a candidate on his religious views."

i can't not giggle ...



[q]This Is Not a Test
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, Dec. 17, 2007, at 12:03 PM ET

Just before this gets completely out of hand and becomes a mantralike repetition, let us please recall what the careful phrases of Article VI of the U.S. Constitution actually and very carefully and deliberately say:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

As so often, the framers and founding fathers meant what they said, said what they meant, and risked no waste of words. A candidate for election, or an applicant for a post in the bureaucracy, could not be disqualified on the grounds of his personal faith in any god (or his disbelief in any god, for that matter). This stipulation was designed to put an end to the hideous practice of European monarchies—and the pre-existing practice of various American colonies—whereby if a man did not affirm the trinity, or deny the pope, or abjure Judaism (depending on the jurisdiction), he could be forbidden to hold office or even to run for it. Along with the establishment clause of the First Amendment, and the predecessor-language of the Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom, it forms part of the chief glory of the first-ever constitution that guaranteed religious liberty, religious pluralism, and the freedom to be left alone by priests and rabbis and mullahs and other characters.

However, what Article VI does not do, and was never intended to do, is deny me the right to say, as loudly as I may choose, that I will on no account vote for a smirking hick like Mike Huckabee, who is an unusually stupid primate but who does not have the elementary intelligence to recognize the fact that this is what he is. My right to say and believe that is already guaranteed to me by the First Amendment. And the right of Huckabee to win the election and fill the White House with morons like himself is unaffected by my expression of an opinion.

So, can we please have less of this deliberate misunderstanding of Article VI, which, if it goes much further, will actually seem to prevent or even to criminalize any criticism of theocratic candidates for high office. I ask you now, does it seem likely that any article of the U.S. Constitution was specially written so that you could not publicly and freely and fearlessly say that you would most decidedly not vote for:

* A candidate who followed the "Rev." Jim Jones to a Kool-Aid resort in Guyana (don't forget that this did actually happen)
* A candidate who said that the pope could excommunicate other American candidates with whom he disagreed
* A candidate who said that the above-mentioned pope was the Antichrist
* A candidate who said that L. Ron Hubbard was a visionary
* A candidate who said that Joseph Smith was a visionary
* A candidate who said that any holy book was scripturally inerrant
* A candidate who was a member of Hezbollah or the Muslim Brotherhood or the Nation of Islam
* A candidate who was a supporter or member of the Orange Order or the Ulster Unionist Party
* A candidate who was a supporter or member of Opus Dei or the Phalange Party
* A candidate who was a supporter or member of Lehi or the Jewish Defense League
* A candidate who was a member of the Aryan Nations, the KKK, or any other white Protestant "Christian Identity" faction
* A candidate who said that the Quran was dictated by the archangel Gabriel

The above list is not exhaustive. But, in merely saying that an adherent of any such belief would certainly influence my vote and also be sure to sway it negatively, I myself apply no "religious test." To do that, I would have to be a legislator or policeman who was urging or upholding an alteration in the law of the land. And, as previously noticed, I would have to demand, and get, an amendment to the Constitution in order to bring this about. To put this simply enough, if I turn to a JDL fanatic and tell him that I will not cast my vote for him, and he responds by saying that I am deciding my vote on the unfair basis that he is a Jew, he is welcome to the meager consolation that this may afford him, but he is legally entitled—as am I—to fight another day.

Isn't it amazing how self-pitying and self-aggrandizing the religious freaks in this country are? It's not enough that they can make straight-faced professions of "faith" at election times and impose their language on everything from the Pledge of Allegiance to the currency. It's not enough that they can claim tax exemption and even subsidy for anything "faith-based." It's that when they are even slightly criticized for their absurd opinions, they can squeal as if being martyred and act as if they are truly being persecuted.

In a breathtaking profile of Huckabee published in the Dec. 16 New York Times Magazine, we read under the byline of Zev Chafets the following euphemistic drivel:

[q] Nowadays, Huckabee has more policy positions, but his campaign is really all about his Christian character. His slogan is "Faith, Family, Freedom," which Huckabee, who was once public-relations man for the Texas televangelist James Robison, wrote himself. Huckabee is no theocrat. He simply believes in the power of the Christian message, and in his ability to embody and deliver it. "It's not that we want to impose our religion on somebody," he wrote in Character Makes a Difference, a book first published in 1997 (as Character Is the Issue) and reissued earlier this year. "It's that we want to shape the culture and laws by using a worldview we believe has value."[/q]

Nice work, no? Can it really be true that "no theocrat" Huckabee wrote that whole slogan all by himself? While you ponder this massively impressive claim, I suggest that you look up the life and times of "the Texas televangelist James Robison" and ask yourself if, in voting against him or his smarmy underling, you would be acting or thinking unconstitutionally.

Awarding his subject a prize for performing the same cheap media trick that he has just performed himself, Chafets (who might also be described as a former public-relations man, but this time for Jerry Falwell's old friend and patron Menachem Begin) concludes by asserting that "Huckabee has become a master at disarming secular audiences." This big fat lie becomes a slender and wispy half-truth only if enough fools can be brought to believe it. One of the ways the propaganda trick is pulled is to insinuate, and to keep on insinuating, that it is the enemies of religious intolerance who are themselves the intolerant ones. That's the way to undermine, and eventually to demolish, the wall of separation.[/q]
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Old 12-17-2007, 02:57 PM   #2
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Is the American Christian Right the Christian Taliban?
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Old 12-17-2007, 02:59 PM   #3
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Old 12-17-2007, 04:16 PM   #4
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Quote:
Isn't it amazing how self-pitying and self-aggrandizing the religious freaks in this country are? It's not enough that they can make straight-faced professions of "faith" at election times and impose their language on everything from the Pledge of Allegiance to the currency. It's not enough that they can claim tax exemption and even subsidy for anything "faith-based." It's that when they are even slightly criticized for their absurd opinions, they can squeal as if being martyred and act as if they are truly being persecuted.
That's very sadly true of some religious people I've come across. There was a girl I talked to recently who complained about things like bumper stickers that make fun of Christians. Seriously? Of all the potential threats to your faith out there, some of which are actually valid and worth being concerned about, you're worried about and offended by bumper sticker quotes?

Quote:
"It's not that we want to impose our religion on somebody," he wrote in Character Makes a Difference, a book first published in 1997 (as Character Is the Issue) and reissued earlier this year. "It's that we want to shape the culture and laws by using a worldview we believe has value."
*Opens mouth. Closes it. Opens it again*

Wow...

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Old 12-17-2007, 04:54 PM   #5
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"It's not that we want to impose our religion on somebody, it's that we want to shape the culture and laws by using a worldview we believe has value."

"It's not that we want to shape the culture and laws by using a worldview we believe has value, It's that we want to impose our religion on somebody."

It's interchangeable.
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Old 12-17-2007, 05:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Vincent Vega
"It's not that we want to impose our religion on somebody, it's that we want to shape the culture and laws by using a worldview we believe has value."
Swap out "religion" with whatever word you'd like -- everyone from GLAAD to the Ku Klux Klan has a worldview they believe has value. What movement/organization doesn't?
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Old 12-17-2007, 06:01 PM   #7
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The President of the United States is not an organisation, as is not any other person holding any office or seat in the political field.
Religious worldviews among others are not worldviews that directly belong into politics. This is not to say a President may not have them or live in denial of his views while being in office, but this sentence screams of saying that he wants to make his politics in the way he before has led his prayers, i.e. translating his believes into his political actions as President.

The Republican party is not an organisation or movement the way GLAAD or the KKK are, and the President is neither.
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Old 12-17-2007, 06:29 PM   #8
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Originally posted by Vincent Vega
this sentence screams of saying that he wants to make his politics in the way he before has led his prayers, i.e. translating his believes into his political actions as President.
Didn't he write that sentence back in 1997?
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Old 12-17-2007, 09:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by nathan1977


Swap out "religion" with whatever word you'd like -- everyone from GLAAD to the Ku Klux Klan has a worldview they believe has value. What movement/organization doesn't?


how all encompassing is the GLAAD worldview? are they concerned with souls? do they believe they answer only to someone infallible? do they posit connection to the infinite? do they tell others precisely how they should live?
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Old 12-17-2007, 10:59 PM   #10
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Nowadays, Huckabee has more policy positions, but his campaign is really all about his Christian character. His slogan is "Faith, Family, Freedom," which Huckabee, who was once public-relations man for the Texas televangelist James Robison, wrote himself. Huckabee is no theocrat. He simply believes in the power of the Christian message, and in his ability to embody and deliver it. "It's not that we want to impose our religion on somebody," he wrote in Character Makes a Difference, a book first published in 1997 (as Character Is the Issue) and reissued earlier this year. "It's that we want to shape the culture and laws by using a worldview we believe has value."

So Huckabee admits he wants to have U.S. law reflect Christian views, but he has no theocratic tendencies whatsoever? And here I thought the New York Times hired smart people to write for them. Silly me.
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Old 12-17-2007, 11:00 PM   #11
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Originally posted by Bono's shades
And here I thought the New York Times hired smart people to write for them. Silly me.
No, silly, the New York Times hires liberal bastards to write for them.


Isn't it obvious from this article?
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Old 12-17-2007, 11:03 PM   #12
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Meh, I don't really like Hitchens, I find him to be on the opposite end of the spectrum from the religious fundamentalists

He does occasionally raise good points though.
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Old 12-18-2007, 07:24 AM   #13
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I pray God (yes, ironic) that this sort of nonsense never gets its claws into Australian politics any further than the so far negligible extent that it has.

By which I simply refer to that whole hand-on-your-heart Jesus thing. It's simply bullshit as regards judging the qualities of someone who will be required to plumb the depths of depravity as part of their future leadership of an empire in decline.

Anyone can tell you they love Jesus. Anyone. Talk is easy.
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Old 12-18-2007, 01:08 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by nathan1977


Didn't he write that sentence back in 1997?
Did he seem to have changed in the previous ten years? As far as I've heard about him it seems no. This very much seems to be part of what he is aiming for in his Presidency, and that sentence really is just a cheap try to say the first part of the sentence in different words hoping to have some falling for it.
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Old 12-18-2007, 01:11 PM   #15
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it is amazing to me how much more overtly religious Huckabee is than even GWB. gosh, in comparison, at least on this issue, GWB looks like a model of Goldwaterian restrain.

shows how badly we've regressed these past 7 years.
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Old 12-18-2007, 01:19 PM   #16
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An opinion piece I read yesterday about religion and politics, I think it makes some very good points.

The politics of religion in America

By James Carroll | Boston Globe December 17, 2007

What in the name of God is going on in American politics? Mitt Romney's "Faith in America" speech, riddled with mistaken assertions about religion, was itself a warning. But other presidential candidates, debate moderators, pundits, and religious leaders all share a dangerous confusion about questions of faith and citizenship. Here are only a few:

Is America's goodness grounded in God? When Romney and others assert that American virtues, generally summed up in the idea of "freedom," are based on faith, a cruel fact of history is being ignored. The politics of human rights, like the idea of individual freedom, were born not in religion but in the Enlightenment struggle against it. When Thomas Jefferson located "inalienable rights" in an endowment from the Creator, he was decidedly speaking from outside the mainstream of any denominational faith. Jefferson's point was not to affirm God, but to deny King George.

It is not an accident that "God" does not appear in the Constitution. Following the American lead, religions, too, learned from the nonreligious improvements of modernity, but it is dishonest to claim after the fact that religions somehow sponsored them.

Were "the Founders" religious? It is a convention of political speechmaking to ascribe faith to the Founders, but what kind of faith, and what Founders? The Pilgrims, for whom "freedom" and "rights" meant nothing, wanted a theocracy. One hundred fifty years later, the Deist revolutionaries assumed a distant God whose interest in creation, much less the young nation, was minimal. By Lincoln's time, traumas of war drove piety, and it was only then that present notions of public devotedness were born. (It was Lincoln who established the motto "In God We Trust.") In truth, the power of faith in American politics has waxed and waned. There is no consistent tradition to be upheld or to be betrayed.

Is "secularism" dehumanizing? When Mitt Romney praised vital American religion in contrast to Europe where churches are "so grand, so inspired, so empty," one could wonder what the collapse of institutional faith in Europe actually means. Romney condemned the "religion of secularism."

Yet such American smugness seems to miss the largest point of difference between the Old World and the New. In the very years that majorities of Europeans were walking away from organized religion, they were resolutely turning away from government-sanctioned killing, whether through war or through the death penalty; they were leaving behind narrow notions of nationalism, mitigating state sovereignty, and, above all, replacing ancient hatreds with partnerships. All of this stands in stark contrast to the United States, where the most overtly religious people in the country support the death penalty, the government's hair-trigger readiness for war, and the gospel of national sovereignty that has made the United States an impediment to the United Nations.

Does God send people to hell if they vote wrong? You would think so if you listened to the American Catholic bishops, who said in November that forbidden political choices "have an impact on the individual's salvation." The five Catholics running for president all hold positions that, in the bishops' view, might earn their supporters eternal damnation. Whenever preachers appeal to hellfire as a way of reinforcing injunctions, you can bet they have failed to make a persuasive moral argument.

What is discouraging here is that the bishops, aiming to reinforce their squandered moral authority, are resuscitating an image of a threatening, violent God that religious people generally, and Catholics in particular, have struggled to leave behind. Religion aims not to "save" from an unmerciful God, but to reveal that God's mercy is complete.

Is Mormonism a religion of myth? The answer, of course, is that every religion is a religion of myth. The symbols, rituals, and sacred texts of every faith grow out of contingent historical circumstances that seem at odds with the transcendent claims that religions make. Joseph Smith's origins in upstate New York might seem disqualifyingly banal, yet so did Jerusalem to those who lived in Rome, as did Galilee to those who lived in Jerusalem. Religions claim to be above such history, and that myths are revelations - but the glory of God is that God reveals through human invention. What Mormons believe is outlandish - which is the point.

Politics and religion, like art and music, aim to accomplish the same thing, which is to overcome absurdity with meaning. Religion does this by seeing God's hand in history. Politics does it by affirming that, if history is all there is, it is enough.
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