September 03, 2006

The enemy within

Is America a Christian or a secular nation?

"Anyone who thinks the religious right is dominant in America today is living in a fantasy world, cut off from reality...."


Anonymous said...


I have a different take on this. And no, I am not a religious person by the traditional definition myself, having not been raised in any faith. That being said, I think the greatest challenge for people who pride themselves on openmindedness is to take a step back and not be so quick to scorn and decry the views of those with whom we disagree.

On some level, I think that is what is making some of these fundementalist folks so strident--the fact that they feel their values are not being respected. Think about it. You don't have to agree with them. You don't even have to like them. But, like I challenge my kids, we should learn to respect and listen. That's what being a true liberal is, after all.

Anonymous said...

I agree with many of Rob's points, but disagree on others (one example being the Constitutional gay marriage ban. Clinton, a liberal, supported the similar DOMA when in office. Another example is his mischaractarizing the stem cell debate: Bush is not trying to ban it. He is just withholding federal dollars for something that is flourishing already in the private sector. Unwillingless for government to give away money to fund something should not be confused with a "ban").

Not to speak for Rob, however, I don't think he has a problem tolerating the "fundamentalist" views. He might object more to these views being forced on others through government policy.

Rob said...

It's not tolerance to tolerate other people's intolerance. If the Christian right wants to eliminate opposing viewpoints, we should oppose that vehemently, not "tolerate" it.

In the posting I linked to, I said Congress was "going along with Bush and severely limiting access to stem cells." I didn't say Bush was trying to ban stem cells.

If Clinton ever spoke about gay marriage, I don't remember hearing about it. The subject had almost no traction then compared to what it has now.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree entirely with your point of view that it isn't tolerance to accept intolerance--which isn't what I'm referring to. Instead, I'm making the case that not all conservative people of faith are closet Nazis even though some of their views go against our orthodoxy.

Example of this is the opposition to abortion. I believe a woman has the right to choose; yet, I have colleagues who are genuine in their belief that it is taking a life. They aren't racists; they aren't haters. But they do feel strongly on this issue.

Do I believe they are misguided? Yes, since it doesn't take into account all the legal, physical and moral challenges that
may influence a young woman's decision to abort. But that doesn't mean that those who disagree are all idiots, bigots or worse.

As progressive thinkers, we must always challenge ourselves to remember to make the distinction between those who hold views we find peculiar, quaint, or just dumb and those who truly are intolerant.

Anonymous said...

I have yet to see a use/accusation of Manicheism in such conversations that really ends up applying.

Rob said...

If conservative Christians are sincere in respecting opposing viewpoints on abortion, they should be willing to compromise. I'm willing to compromise on the issue; are they? If not, they're intolerant whether they seem to be polite and respectful or not. They're fanatics who want to impose their beliefs on others, and I won't tolerate it.

When anti-abortionists can prove a fetus has a soul, they may have a winning argument. Until then, they shouldn't mistake their opinion for a fact. Murder is "the killing of another human being under conditions specifically covered in law," not any killing a person doesn't approve of.

If anti-abortionists don't recognize that, they don't have a leg to stand on. They're trying to force our government to operate under fundamentalist Christian principles not shared by other religions. The First Amendment forbids such an establishment of religion.

Anonymous said...

Yes, there is the legalistic definition of "murder". It used to be OK to kill black persons at will, and it was not considered to be "murder".

Anonymous said...

"When anti-abortionists can prove a fetus has a soul, they may have a winning argument."

Are the Christian abolitionists who worked to end slavery wrong, then? No-one has yet proven that black people have souls. Or white folks, for that matter.

Rob said...

The Declaration of Independence says that all men are created equal. Our laws are based on this concept. Enslaving or lynching blacks was a violation of this concept because blacks were clearly men.

These crimes against blacks and other minorities were unsupportable because they flied in the face of biological fact. Many of the Founders knew slavery was wrong, but they were too cowardly or greedy to end it. Nevertheless, the institution was doomed to fail eventually. It couldn't deny the biological reality of the situation forever.

Abortion is a qualitatively different matter. It's a biological fact that a fetus is a living organism, but it's a philosophical question whether it's a "human being" or has a "soul." I can prove blacks are men by any standard you can name, but you can't prove anything more than a fetus is a potential human being.

If conservative Christians are so sincere in their beliefs, what are they doing to prevent millions of poverty-stricken children from dying of hunger and disease? Anything? If allowing a human to die is "murder," they should be willing to do anything to prevent it. So would they support a doubling or tripling of their taxes to create a worldwide "culture of life" where no child dies of a preventable malady?

I don't think so. Which is why I suggest these people are less sincere than Carole think they are. These are the same people who demanded that we keep Terri Schiavo alive while they ignored thousands of coma patients in similar circumstances. Their agenda is to impose their views on us, to take control of the country, not to save "innocent lives."