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What ‘War On Religion?’

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One of the common refrains one hears from religious conservatives in the United States is the claim that there is a so-called “war on religion” being waged by, depending on who you ask, the left, the Democratic Party, “secular humanists,” atheists, or whichever other label they might be applying to their enemies at a given time. Purported examples of this “war” include everything from Court decisions that have struck down as unconstitutional certain public displays of religious faith, positions on policy issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage that diverge form what they claim to be religiously mandated, and a general public culture that supposedly denigrates religious belief at every turn. As Peter Beinart notes at The Atlantic, though, there’s no evidence of any such “war,” and plenty of evidence that religion is alive and well, even on the political left:

Notice the claim. It’s not merely that liberals are not religious themselves. It’s that they disdain people who are, and this disdain creates a cultural stigma (and a legal barrier) to religious observance. “Bigotry against evangelical Christians is the last acceptable form of bigotry in the country,” Ralph Reed said recently.

The truth is almost exactly the reverse. Over the past few decades, liberals have—far more than conservatives—turned away from religious affiliation, though not necessarily belief in God. But while they may feel proud of their views on religion-informed issues like evolution and gay marriage, they’re not particularly proud of their lack of religious observance per se. Indeed, they’re aware that they’re violating a cherished social norm. Asking liberals to admit that they are disproportionately secular is like asking conservatives to admit that they are disproportionately white. It’s a truth they find embarrassing. Liberals love left-leaning religious figures like Sister Simone Campbell, the immigrant-rights-championing nun who addressed the 2012 Democratic National Convention, for the same reason conservatives love right-wing African Americans like Herman Cain and Dr. Ben Carson: They defy a negative stereotype.

After all, if liberals really stigmatized the religious, wouldn’t some of them have objected when John Kerry flaunted his Catholicism in 2004 or Barack Obama flaunted his adult embrace of Christianity in 2008? Is there a single example, even in the most liberal city or district, of one Democratic candidate trying to outdo the other by proclaiming herself more hostile to religious belief?

(…)

Social practices can retain, or even increase, their prestige while becoming less common. Think about military service, which is lionized more today than it was during the Vietnam War, even though fewer citizens serve. Something similar has happened with religion. Americans, especially left-leaning Americans, are less likely than they were a generation ago to go to church. But they’d rather you not know how much less, because religious practice—like service in the military—enjoys prestige as a marker of morality and self-discipline. And the more Americans fret that those values are being lost, the more they value religious observance for carrying them on, if they aren’t religiously observant themselves.

That’s what the “war on religion” types don’t get. Liberals may dislike the political views that religious conservatives espouse, but they’re quite sympathetic to religion itself. Of course, admitting that would make it harder for religious conservatives to play the victim—which is what the “war on religion” is really all about.

The victimization, of course, is a central part of the political religiousity that conservative Christians have adopted in the past several decades. The barbarians are at the gate, it is claimed. Sodom and Gomorroah are just around the corner, or maybe even just down the street at the movie theater. We are only a short time away from the day when the government will throw people in jail for their religious beliefs. In one form or another, these are all claims that have been heard from the people claiming that we are living through a “war on religion.” It obviously plays quite well with the crowds, because this form of Christianity has only gotten more popular as time as passed, at least in certain parts of the country.

More recently, of course, the claims of a “war on religion” have become mixed in with a debate that the Christian Right is quite obviously losing in the political legal arena, the debate over same-sex marriage. For quite a long time, religious and social conservatives were quite successful in using appeals to religion, tradition, and the like in their arguments against marriage equality. As time has gone on, however, and public acceptable of homosexuality in general and same-sex marriage in particular has increased, those arguments have lost their effectiveness even among people who describe themselves as religious. As a result, the arguments in this area are now shifting to claims that marriage equality is somehow an assault on the religious faith of those who object to it, and calls for everyone from ministers (who are already covered by the First Amendment) to florists and photographers to be given the right to refuse to provide services to same-sex couples and exemptions from anti-discrimination laws that apply to sexual orientation. A very similar argument is being made by owners of for-profit corporations who claim that complying with the contraceptive coverage mandate under the Affordable Care Act is a violation of their religious liberty. Leaving aside the question of the legal merits of these particular claims under the Free Exercise Clause (or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act), the fact that this seems to be the new battleground in the so-called “war on religion” is a strong indication that we’re likely to see a lot more of this rhetoric in the years to come.

The reality, of course, is quite different from the doom and gloom that the cries of persecution would have you believe.  Far from being under attack, religious faith in the United States is as strong as it has ever been. Survey after survey indicates that, across all demographic groups, Americans believe in some concept of a God at far greater rates than citizens of other First World nations. Other surveys have indicated that the only religious group that Americans would feel uncomfortable seeing with a representative in the White House is atheists, even a Muslim-American President seems more acceptable than an someone who doubts or denies the existence of a God. Church attendance in the United States remains the highest in the developed word and, without fail, American voters expect their leaders to make all the necessary public acknowledgments of religious faith. If this is an example of a nation at war with religion then the war is already lost, and the secularists have mostly lost.

The claims of religious persecution that one hears from religious conservatives become even more absurd when one considers the state of religious liberty in the rest of the world. There are places on this planet where people practice their faith in secret because of the threat of government oppression. There are others where people have been arrested, or simply killed by a mob, for converting to the wrong faith. Some nations still have Established Churches supported by tax dollars, others ban any sect not approved by the state. Compared to the realities of the rest of the world, the claims by religious conservatives that they are living in a nation that is at war with their religious faith are not only absurd, but offensive in the fact of people throughout the world who are being persecuted in real life on a regular basis.

On the whole, the United States is quite clearly the greatest defender of religious liberty on Earth. The idea that members of the predominant faith in the country are being victimized or that their government, society, or culture is at war with them is either a paranoid delusion or a slogan used by hucksters to whip up frenzy and passion among partisans. The one thing it isn’t though, is anything close to a reflection of reality.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. David in KC says:

    Doug, why do you hate Christians?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  2. John Peabody says:

    A similar argument is the fear of ‘establishment of Sharia Law’. People claim that they don’t want religons making laws. But…there are lots of liquor laws banning sales on Sundays. We seem to exempt relgious laws from mainstream cults.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  3. DrDaveT says:

    The claims of religious persecution that one hears from religious conservatives [...]

    In many places in this article you say “religious conservatives” when you mean “Republican fundamentalist protestant Christians”. The broader term is not merely misleading; it smuggles in the very conclusion you are contradicting, which is that this is somehow about religion in general, and not about the specific ability of a specific religious sect to act as if it were the official state religion of the US. I don’t hear any claims about a war on religion from conservative Jewish leaders, or conservative imams.

    But then, slaveowners were fond of characterizing abolitionism as a “war on property”. There’s nothing new here.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 40 Thumb down 1

  4. legion says:

    The victimization, of course, is a central part of the political religiousity that conservative Christians have adopted in the past several decades.

    Dingdingdingding! You are correct, Dave. The people leading this particular charge, whether clerics or politicians, are scam artists and charlatans. They are relying solely on the idea of scaring the bejezus out of their flocks in order to get ever-more money out of them. The visceral fear they try to generate short-circuits their conscious thinking processes and prevents them from realizing that they’re being flatly lied to. A similar effect can be seen in the Voter ID crowd – “millions of criminals and illegals are voting billions of times to subvert your government!”… yet they have no actual examples of such things. But still, the fear takes hold.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  5. grumpy realist says:

    It’s just that those who used to have Special Snowflake privilege in this society are being asked to share their toys, and like all those with the maturity of toddlers, they prefer to pout and scream and kick rather than share nicely.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 0

  6. gVOR08 says:

    Doug, they don’t want us to defend religious liberty, they want us to promote their faith. Anything short of that is, to them, persecution.

    I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I don’t think most atheists keep quiet because we don’t want to advertise our lack of “…a marker of morality and self-discipline.” I generally keep quiet because pushing atheism may cause some strain and wouldn’t accomplish anything. I have no particular hostility toward religion as long as it isn’t pushed in my face. However, changing this assumption would not affect Beinart’s conclusions.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  7. Pinky says:

    Three comments about the piece in The Atlantic:

    – If I read it correctly, the author pulled a fast one. He cited a recent study about claims of church attendance over the phone versus over the internet, then wrote about the discrepancy between political affiliation. I don’t see anything in the study he cited about political affiliation. I may have missed it. But it looks like he used the recent study as an opportunity to bring up a subject he felt like writing about.

    – I think he makes a very good point that the left has the same embarrassment about its secularism as the right has about its whiteness.

    – I don’t see how any of that proves the conclusion he draws that there’s no war on religion. I’m not saying there is a war on religion, but I don’t see how he makes the conclusion he does.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 22

  8. Apropos:

    Lack of Respect

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  9. Vast Variety says:

    One of the largest determinants to religion is it’s organization into a church.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. C. Clavin says:

    @Pinky:

    I think he makes a very good point that the left has the same embarrassment about its secularism as the right has about its whiteness.

    How are those two things comparable?
    One is a belief that Government should not be influenced by any religion. Why in the world would I be embarrassed for supporting the 1st Amendment and agreeing with the founders about a separation of church and state?
    Thomas Jefferson:

    “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.”

    The other is simply about xenophobia and the exclusion of those who are not like you.

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  11. Pinky says:

    Both sides are left with the feeling that something that used to be a big part of them is missing. Note that I didn’t say that the left’s secularism was similar to the right’s whiteness, only that their embarrassment is similar. I’m just repeating the point in the Atlantic article.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  12. Dave D says:

    I loved how Louisiana was all for the freedom of spending taxpayer dollars to fund religious charter schools, until someone brought up a madrasa could qualify. They didn’t even have to apply for money to sink the program. Why are Louisiana Christian Conservatives waging a war on religion?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 0

  13. Tyrell says:

    There are some government actions that have the effect of forcing people to support or do other things that run contrary to their religious beliefs. Such as the Hobby Lobby debacle, and certain aspects of the Affordable Health Care act. See the site The American Way, “Obama Administration
    War On Religion”. Certainly people should not be forced to subsidize actions that are contrary to their religious beliefs. Dr. Al Mohler had a thoughtful, fair essay about the gay marriage effect on businesses that service weddings. See Al Mohler site.
    Overall, though, there is little interference from government in the operations and activities of churches. Even those that are very political. Our church has usually been given a free pass from local codes and inspections over the years from the local government when it comes to minor construction or remodeling. We have not been required to get permits for raffles, yard sales, or block.parties.They have not bothered us about having outdoor concerts and chime music. The local leaders support the churches around here because of the good work that they do to help people, from providing food to adult literacy classes. We hold election forums and safety classes. We have also had job fairs, college night, child behavior classes, and motivational Christian speakers.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 19

  14. Just Me says:

    I don’t particularly believe there is a war on religion but there is a certain hostility towards those who hold religious beliefs and in general there isn’t any real social ramifications for making generalizations about religious people-especially religious conservatives.

    Generally the real war on religion is occurring in other countries where being a Christian can mean real discrimination or in some cases can get you killed-such as the woman sentenced to death for her Christian faith in the Sudan (her father was Muslim, her mother Christian-her father left her family when she was a child, her mother raised he in the Christian faith, she married anChristian man and has now been sentenced to die and to be beaten for adultery because she married a Christian).

    So basically I will believe there is a war on Christianity when being a Christian actually puts me and/or my family in real danger.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 4

  15. sam says:

    @Tyrell:

    Certainly people should not be forced to subsidize actions that are contrary to their religious beliefs.

    So, then, Quakers should be able to deduct from their income taxes that portion that would go to the DOD? Or, more generally, Religion _______ shall be exempt from Public Law _______ if said law is contrary to the tenets of said religion.

    Surely, you don’t mean that. Justice Scalia, writing for the majority in Employment Division v. Smith (494 U.S. 872 (1990)):

    We have never held that an individual’s religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate. On the contrary, the record of more than a century of our free exercise jurisprudence contradicts that proposition. As described succinctly by Justice Frankfurter in Minersville School Dist. Bd. of Educ. v. Gobitis, 310 U.S. 586, 594-595 (1940):

    Conscientious scruples have not, in the course of the long struggle for religious toleration, relieved the individual from obedience to a general law not aimed at the promotion or restriction of religious beliefs. The mere possession of religious convictions which contradict the relevant concerns of a political society does not relieve the citizen from the discharge of political responsibilities.

    We first had occasion to assert that principle in Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1879), where we rejected the claim that criminal laws against polygamy could not be constitutionally applied to those whose religion commanded the practice. “Laws,” we said,

    are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices. . . . Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious belief? To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. [My emphasis]

    However Hobby Lobby, et al, turn out, Justice Scalia is certainly correct in principle, or do you disagree?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 1

  16. Tyrell says:

    @sam: Very good points. I will study them and read other legal precedents, as well as opinions from legal experts, theologians, church leaders, and pastors on church websites. As you pointed out, there are several angles and effects to this issue, some of which the church leaders would not anticipate or want. Many people refer to polygamy in the Holy Bible, Old Testament (King Solomon is usually referred to). But there is scripture in there that states God’s disapproval and condemnation of that practice.
    As far as tax exempt status, there was a local pastor some time ago who was against tax exempt status for churches. His reasoning was that it gives the governments a permanent “foot in the door”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  17. Tillman says:

    @Just Me:

    I don’t particularly believe there is a war on religion but there is a certain hostility towards those who hold religious beliefs and in general there isn’t any real social ramifications for making generalizations about religious people-especially religious conservatives.

    I wouldn’t even go as far as to call it hostility. It’s a shift in the culture about what is considered an acceptable identity.

    I recall in another thread that went religious debate there was an anecdote shared by an atheist commenter (off the top of my head, I want to say Grewgills?) who said when he told family or friends he was atheist, he’d be asked questions about his morality. Almost the exact opposite happened to me when I said in front of friends that I was Christian; they had all assumed I was an atheist because I seemed a reasonable guy. I was then interrogated about what my specific beliefs were. It becomes hostile when such questioning is insistent, but it doesn’t have to be but for insistent, insecure people.

    But yeah, I subscribe to the school of thought that states if you aren’t being physically tortured or assaulted, or your house or possessions aren’t being set on fire, then it doesn’t qualify as persecution. They want to use the word “persecution” because they don’t want to appear like they’re whining, which they are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  18. Kylopod says:

    As a liberal and a religious Jew, I’m aware that some of the liberals on this forum are not religious, and some are even antagonistic toward religion. But the thing is, there probably isn’t much disagreement among us on public policy issues. I believe very strongly in the separation of church and state, and I think one of the main reasons the US is, as you put it, one of the greatest defenders of religious liberty in the world, has everything to do with the fact that we’re one of the few countries with church-state separation. It’s commonplace for democracies to have an established Church, and even if many of these countries are fairly secular in practice, the existence of an official state church, by definition, makes full religious equality impossible, because it effectively renders other religions second-class.

    The cries of a “war on religion” always come from members of the majority religion (in this case Christianity), and what they amount to is a complaint that Christianity isn’t being treated as dominant. Ironically these cries are often made when Jews, Muslims, and so on are having their rights defended. The “war on religion” is essentially an attempt to bring the majority faith down from its high horse.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 1

  19. Rafer Janders says:

    If anyone’s fighting a war against religion, it’s the Oklahoma state legislature. A religious group is trying to erect a statue of their beloved deity on the grounds of the Oklahoma state capitol, and the legislature and governor, perhaps motivated by some kind of bizarre anti-religious prejudice, are trying to stop them:

    The Prince of Darkness won’t see the light of day in Oklahoma, if lawmakers have their way. A satanic group commissioned a statue of the devil, raising money to pay a sculptor who it won’t identify, as a way of protesting the Sooner State’s placement of a Ten Commandments monument on the Statehouse lawn in Oklahoma City.

    ….Oklahoma officials say there is no way in hell that a statue of Satan will ever assume a position at the Capitol.

    “There will never be a satanic monument on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol and the suggestion that there might be is absurd,” Alex Weintz, spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin, said in a statement to FoxNews.com.

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/05/05/satanic-group-says-oklahoma-must-give-devil-his-due/

    See? There’s your war on religion right there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 3

  20. An Interested Party says:

    The victimization, of course, is a central part of the political religiousity that conservative Christians have adopted in the past several decades.

    Victimization that goes hand in hand with how so many conservatives whine about how the media, the universities, Hollywood, etc. are against them…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  21. Slugger says:

    Promoters try to instill a sense of urgency in their targets. If you don’t phone right now, you won’t be able to buy these fine knives at such a good price. If you don’t send us a check right now, every woman you know will die of breast cancer tomorrow. Obama will be confiscating all handguns tomorrow. Hurry down, only a few left. War on religion.
    We will know that there is a war on religion when our politicians who are always AWOL in real wars stop talking about religion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  22. DrDaveT says:

    @Tyrell:

    Certainly people should not be forced to subsidize actions that are contrary to their religious beliefs.

    sam already covered this pretty well, but I thought it worth reinforcing. No Quaker or Jew or Moslem or Mormon or Buddhist or Wiccan would ever suspect for a moment that there was a general principle like that in play, because they are forced to do such things every day. It’s only the mainstream Christians, who have had the privilege of making the rules for the last 1500 years of western history, who are startled and upset when they run up against genuine separation of church and state.

    If your religion requires human sacrifice, I’m sorry — you will be asked to pay taxes to fund the law enforcement activities that prevent that. If your religion forbids the eating of shellfish, I’m sorry — your tax dollars will be used to subsidize shellfish farming. If your religion teaches that the victim of aggression should react submissively — “turn the other cheek” — I’m sorry, your tax dollars will be used to fund weapons development and procurement for defense.

    And if your religion teaches that people with red hair are despised by God, and that Her wrath is upon them, I’m sorry — you will be required to treat redheads equally under the law, and to not discriminate against them, and to generally pretend they are not redheaded in matters of public policy — including whom they may marry.

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  23. C. Clavin says:

    @Pinky:
    You called them the same.
    How is that not saying they are similar?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  24. DrDaveT says:

    @Just Me:

    I don’t particularly believe there is a war on religion but there is a certain hostility towards those who hold religious beliefs and in general there isn’t any real social ramifications for making generalizations about religious people-especially religious conservatives.

    Speaking as a longtime Baptist, I think you’re making an important error here. There is no hostility toward those who hold religious beliefs. There is hostility toward those who use religious beliefs as an excuse for antisocial and cruel behaviors.

    I don’t care what you believe, so long as you treat other people decently and accord them the same respect you would accord your own congregation. If your religion teaches that you must not do this, I have contempt for your religion, and would prefer that you followed the teachings and example of Jesus of Nazareth, who treated everyone except religious leaders with equal compassion and love.

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  25. C. Clavin says:

    @Tyrell:

    Certainly people should not be forced to subsidize actions that are contrary to their religious beliefs.

    I don’t support wars of choice but a butt-load of my tax money went to pay for them.
    I don’t have kids but a butt-load of my money goes to Public schools.
    Zealots are looking for special treatment based on their extremist views.
    That’s not what this country is about.
    Why do they hate this country?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  26. Tillman says:

    @DrDaveT: Don’t forget bankers. Jesus did not like bankers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  27. John says:

    After Mississippi passed their version of RFRA a couple of months ago (eff. July 1), some businesses came up with the idea of printing/distributing small window stickers that say, simply, “We Don’t Discriminate….If You’re Buying, We’re Selling” and a couple of hundred businesses across the state (and a few in other states) have already received and started displaying them.

    Not long after this campaign started, the Nobel-worthy logicians at AFA decided that businesses putting these stickers in their windows were participating in anti-Christian “bullying”. No. Really.

    (Ironically, the original wording of the AFA’s linked narrative stated or inferred that the participating businesses were practicing discrimination against Christians, which is…of course…against the law. An attorney representing three of the businesses reportedly sent a C&D to Tom Wildmon at the AFA insisting that this claim be removed under threat of legal action. They subsequently changed the wording, per reports)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  28. DrDaveT says:

    @Tillman:

    Don’t forget bankers.

    Point taken.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  29. Franklin says:

    All I know is that my niece was bullied every day on the bus for not believing in a god. That’s the sort of sh*t that produces the angry atheist that she is today. And this was in Michigan, not way down South. I doubt there’s many examples of this situation in reverse.

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  30. Pinky says:

    @C. Clavin: I called their embarrassment about the things the same, not the things themselves. Again, I’m just repeating the point in the article.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  31. jomike says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    “There will never be a satanic monument on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol and the suggestion that there might be is absurd,” Alex Weintz, spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin, said in a statement to FoxNews.com.

    Huh, so they’re going to take down the Ten Commandments monument? Because he does realize that that’s the only way he can guarantee the satanic monument will never be erected, right? That if the Ten Commandments stay, the courts will have no choice but to force them to allow the Baphomet?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  32. C. Clavin says:

    @Pinky:
    And agreeing with it…without the slightest critical thought.
    I’ll ask again…who is embarrassed by supporting the 1st Amendment. It’s the Republicans who condemn secular thought…and think that the First gives them the freedom to impose their superstitious beliefs on others. But that is their problem, not the lefts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  33. Pinky says:

    @C. Clavin:

    And agreeing with it…without the slightest critical thought.

    Not true. I’m only pointing out that you can find it there if you don’t understand what I’m saying, or won’t accept it because it’s coming from me.

    I’ll ask again…who is embarrassed by supporting the 1st Amendment. It’s the Republicans who condemn secular thought…and think that the First gives them the freedom to impose their superstitious beliefs on others. But that is their problem, not the lefts.

    I’m not talking about defending the 1st Amendment, I’m talking about religiosity in general. The left traditionally included a religious element, just as the right traditionally included a black element. There is a sense of embarrassment among both the left and the right about the element that they lost. I think the author in The Atlantic had a very good insight there, and I wanted to highlight it. If you’d like to continue to say the same thing over and over, please do me a favor and copy and paste this reply to the comment thread afterwards.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  34. Tillman says:

    @jomike: Maybe they could reject it on aesthetic grounds? I didn’t like the Baphomet statue. It wasn’t family-friendly like they advertised it would be. Baphomet was just doing his/her (I forget what sex, if any, Baphomet’s supposed to be) “stare into eternity with figure gestures” pose while two kids look on as if mesmerized. That sends the wrong message; should’ve had Baphomet interact with or at least acknowledge the kids in some way.

    I’m not saying make Baphomet smile, but do something with the kids. The kids didn’t even look happy.

    Then again, I have no clue why they have such a hard-on for erecting sculptures of the Ten Commandments.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  35. Ben says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Well, if you believe the results of the study in the linked article, a lot of liberals seem to be embarassed, because they are pretending to be more religious than they are for some reason. I don’t think that the author of the article is saying that they SHOULD be, but it’s happening.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  36. ernieyeball says:

    @Ben:..a lot of liberals seem to be embarassed, because they are pretending to be more religious than they are…

    Help us Ben. How do you measure “…more religious than they are…”? And what method of detection allows you to know that they are “pretending”?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  37. anjin-san says:

    @ Ben

    Considering how many self-identified Christians on the right appear to have rejected the teachings of Jesus, you might find problems with people “pretending to be more religious than they are” to worry about a bit closer to home.

    Of course, I could be wrong. Can you show me where Jesus preached the gospel of hatred and intolerance? I have not been able to find it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  38. C. Clavin says:

    @Ben:
    As compared to Republicans who are about as Anti-Christian as you can be?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  39. C. Clavin says:

    @Pinky:
    The left does include a religious element…and it includes Christians and Jews and Muslims…as well as Atheists. The left has a big tent that includes many many other elements. But the left also recognizes the First Amendment and the secularism that mandates.
    You are always just making this shit up out of whole cloth….and then when you get called on it you shift the goal posts.
    It’s nonsense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  40. rudderpedals says:

    The study that started this whole thing off is at http://publicreligion.org/research/2014/05/aapor-2014/

    Someone who understands the subject might want to review the online polling part.

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  41. Pinky says:

    @C. Clavin: I’m not talking about defending the 1st Amendment, I’m talking about religiosity in general. The left traditionally included a religious element, just as the right traditionally included a black element. There is a sense of embarrassment among both the left and the right about the element that they lost. I think the author in The Atlantic had a very good insight there, and I wanted to highlight it. If you’d like to continue to say the same thing over and over, please do me a favor and copy and paste this reply to the comment thread afterwards.

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  42. jomike says:

    @Tillman:

    Maybe they could reject it on aesthetic grounds? I didn’t like the Baphomet statue. It wasn’t family-friendly like they advertised it would be.

    …I’m not saying make Baphomet smile, but do something with the kids. The kids didn’t even look happy.

    Heh. But toddlers can sit on its lap, right? Satanic inspiration, how cool is that? :-D

    As to rejecting the Baphomet on aesthetic grounds, it’d be tough to come up with objective legal basis for that, wouldn’t it? “The horns look weird” or “lots of Christians are creeped out by it” wouldn’t fly because the satanists would just come back with “yeah, well we think it’s the coolest evah.”

    And if the state can reject a monument purely on the aesthetic judgment of the majority, could it not then prohibit non-Christian prayers or invocations at public events on the same grounds? Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim or (FSM forbid) satanic prayers surely offend the aesthetic sensibilities of many Christians at least as much as some mute monument tucked away on a quiet corner of the capitol lawn. Maybe more.

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  43. jomike says:

    @Tillman:

    Then again, I have no clue why they have such a hard-on for erecting sculptures of the Ten Commandments.

    That’s because you’re not a Talibangelical like David Barton or Roy Moore. To those guys these monuments are proof that See, America Really Is A Xian Nation!! Also, to bring G-d’s favor and avoid incurring Her wrath. (Like, literally. Drought and locusts and what not.)

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  44. grumpy realist says:

    @jomike: Heck, I’d love to be able to get rid of a lot of that trash that gets thrown out there as “public art.” You may call it “Transparent Horizons I” but to us it’s just “that big black scrap heap of iron you stuck together”.

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  45. Kylopod says:

    @Pinky: I disagree with Beinart’s analogy between blacks on the right and religious folks on the left. I see a parallel, but a strong difference in degree. Obama won the black vote by around 95% both times, and previous Dem candidates got around 90%. That’s far, far greater a lock than the roughly 60/40 advantage Republicans have with regular churchgoers. It means religious people are more likely to vote Republican, but there still are a substantial number of religious Democrats–much more than the amount of black Republicans.

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  46. anjin-san says:

    The left traditionally included a religious element, just as the right traditionally included a black element

    There is a good candidate for the false equivalence hall of fame.

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  47. Gavrilo says:

    Remember when the Democrats removed the word “God” from their 2012 platform? Remember when the party leadership, realizing what a disaster it was, reinserted it even though the delegates clearly voted against it? Remember when the delegates boo’d when Villaraigosa announced that God was back in the platform.

    Good times.

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  48. C. Clavin says:

    @Pinky:

    I think he makes a very good point that the left has the same embarrassment about its secularism as the right has about its whiteness.

    I’m talking about religiosity in general.

    From Wikipedia:

    Secularism is the principle of the separation of government institutions and persons mandated to represent the state, from religious institutions and religious dignitaries.

    Apparently you don’t know what you are talking about.

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  49. C. Clavin says:

    @Gavrilo:
    Why are you talking about a fictitious being?

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  50. rudderpedals says:

    @jomike:

    Heh. But toddlers can sit on its lap, right? Satanic inspiration, how cool is that? :-D

    That statue makes the whole messy affair a win. I think it’s all kinds of awesome. Please proceed, Gov. Fallon (!)

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  51. Pinky says:

    @C. Clavin: from Dictionary.com:

    1.
    secular spirit or tendency, especially a system of political or social philosophy that rejects all forms of religious faith and worship.

    2.
    the view that public education and other matters of civil policy should be conducted without the introduction of a religious element.

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  52. mantis says:

    @Gavrilo:

    Remember when the Democrats removed the word “God” from their 2012 platform?

    Remember when “God” was removed from the Constitution? Oh wait. It was never in there.

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  53. DrDaveT says:

    @C. Clavin: Sorry, CC, I have to go with Pinky here — he is using the word ‘secularism’ in its much more common and widely-understood sense. For example, I recently ran across a collection of lectures about the works of C.S. Lewis that talked a lot about secularism, but never in a context related to the separation of church and state.

    The Wikipedia definition that narrows it down to the relationship between governments and religious institutions is new to me; was that from an article specifically about governments?

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  54. Pinky says:

    @DrDaveT: What matters is that the original piece in The Atlantic clearly used the word in its broader meaning. It used lack of church attendance as a proxy for secularism, which wouldn’t have made sense under Dictionary.com definition #2.

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  55. jomike says:

    @rudderpedals:

    That statue makes the whole messy affair a win. I think it’s all kinds of awesome. Please proceed, Gov. Fallon (!)

    +1. The OK capitol grounds could become the Washington Mall of religious monuments. I guess Judaism and Islam aren’t keen on such things, but surely something tasteful and reverent could be done. Hinduism and Shinto have tons of possibilities. The Buddha, how cool would that be? Druidism – an altar under a big oak tree, maybe? And monuments for Native American religions would be especially appropriate, this being Oklahoma. The Unitarian flaming chalice would look nice. It could be a major tourist destination!

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  56. Tillman says:

    @jomike:

    Heh. But toddlers can sit on its lap, right? Satanic inspiration, how cool is that? :-D

    That’s what I was thinking. Make it more Santa Clausy, have a sculpted toddler sitting on Ol’ Baphomet’s lap and clearing enjoying the wisdom s/he hears from Baphomet’s goat head.

    Or just do a Buddy Christ version with Baphomet. Something not as cliched as what they went with.

    As to rejecting the Baphomet on aesthetic grounds, it’d be tough to come up with objective legal basis for that, wouldn’t it?

    I was being kind of facetious in even suggesting they could, but now that I give it more thought, they could form some sort of committee to oversee what sorts of monuments get placed in the park. After all, the entire reason the Ten Commandments statue can go up is because it has private funding. They could assert that this committee’s job is to judge whether the monument going up meets certain criteria for public consumption.

    If they’re going to just reject crap that makes them uncomfortable, they might as well waste the tax dollars and work hours to make it seem legit.

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  57. jomike says:

    @Tillman:

    Or just do a Buddy Christ version with Baphomet.

    Heh, now THAT would be a tourist draw!

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  58. Grewgills says:

    @Tillman:

    That’s what I was thinking. Make it more Santa Clausy, have a sculpted toddler sitting on Ol’ Baphomet’s lap and clearing enjoying the wisdom s/he hears from Baphomet’s goat head.

    The lap was left empty specifically so actual children or adults could sit in his lap and if they are delusional enough perhaps hear his wisdom.
    Per your earlier comment, he/she was toned down a fair bit. Baphomet is traditionally hermaphroditic with rather voluptuous breasts and a large caduceus boner against his belly.

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  59. C. Clavin says:

    @DrDaveT:
    No…it was about secularism.
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secularism
    Neglecting that…the idea that Democrsts reject faith is nonsense. The left rejects it’s injection into the public sphere…eg the Ten
    Commandments on the Court House steps.
    And just who in the Democratic Party is embarrassed by that?
    Again…Pinky latched onto something without giving it an ounce of critical thought and then proceeded to move the target hither and yon …which he does constantly.

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  60. DrDaveT says:

    @C. Clavin:

    the idea that Democrsts reject faith is nonsense

    It’s probably just as well, then, that Pinky didn’t make any such assertion. Nor anything remotely like it.

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  61. jomike says:

    @Tillman:

    they could form some sort of committee to oversee what sorts of monuments get placed in the park.

    And holy cow, imagine the crap those poor committee members would have to put up with! Arm twisting, second-guessing, verbal abuse, and threats from everybody and his lunatic brother 24/7. The pressure to find ostensibly objective grounds to disallow monuments that evangelicals and fundamentalists disapprove of would be overpowering, and never-ending.

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  62. Pinky says:

    @DrDaveT: I hate how Pinky says that Democrats aren’t even real people, but just giant squirrels that look like people. Talk about moving the goal posts!

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  63. Ex-conego says:

    I am a devout Roman Catholic, which makes me a conservative when it comes to abortion, a liberal when the question is the death penalty, universal health care, a minimum wage which a family can live on, subsidized housing for the poor and disabled, a military policy limited to defense of our nation… And I could go on. I’m not ebullient about gay marriage, but so long as it isn’t made mandatory, I’m prepared not to worry about it; I suppose that makes me “undecided”.

    I guess that means that there is a ‘war’ on my Christianity from the evil left-wing liberals regarding abortion, and a far greater ‘war’ on my Christianity from the evil right-wing religious conservatives regarding everything everything else that Jesus taught and that I believe.

    If everybody is against me, I’m either doing something wrong or something very right.

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