Rick Santorum Gets It Wrong On The Role Of Religion In Politics

Rick Santorum would do well to listen to the words of the last Catholic to be President of the United States.

Charlie Sperling at The Examiner writes about a a speech that Rick Santorum made in December wherein he choose to criticize what may well be one of the most famous speeches about the role of religion in politics in American history:

With all the recent media-fueled controversy surrounding Rick Santorum’s religious beliefs, should he give a speech addressing the issue?

In many ways, Santorum addressed this issue in December of 2010, speaking to a political symposium in Boston sponsored by St. Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, when conceivably he was already considering a run for president.

In the address, Santorum criticized Kennedy’s historic speech on religion to a group of Protestant ministers in Houston shortly before the presidential election in 1960.

Santorum argued that by confessing “an absolute separation of Church and State,” Kennedy chose, “not just to dispel fear, but to expel faith,” after doubts were raised about whether or not his  administration would be subject to the papacy.

“The idea of a strict or absolute separation of church and state is not and never was the American model,” Santorum stated, asserting that the concept was developed by Justice Hugo Black in the Supreme Court case of Everson vs. Board of Education in 1947.

(…)

The founding fathers, Santorum argued, were against a state sponsored religion so that religious freedom could flourish.

“Kennedy took words written to protect religion from the government and used them to shield the government from religion,” Santorum added, reminding the audience that since the famous speech, Catholics everywhere ignored the role of religion in public life.

The result, Santorum complained, was an “imposition of secular values on everybody while marginalizing faith and those who believe as ‘moralizing theocrats.'”

Santorum argued that Kennedy should have worked to explain that fears of a “theocracy” under a Catholic president were misplaced, and should have explained that prudence, together with faith and reason, could make laws for a just society, without legislating personal morality.

These remarks — contained in a speech you can view here — mirror comments Santorum made several months later, also in Boston, where he said that he was “appalled” by the position then-Senator Kennedy took in that famous 1960 speech in Houston:

In remarks to about 50 members of the group Catholic Citizenship — which encourages parishioners to speak out on issues of public policy — Santorum decried what he called the growing secularization of American public life.

He traced the problem to Kennedy’s 1960 speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, in which Kennedy — then a candidate for president — sought to allay concerns about his Catholicism by declaring, “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.”

Santorum, who is Catholic, said he is “frankly appalled” by Kennedy’s remark.

“That was a radical statement,” Santorum said, and it did “great damage.”

“We’re seeing how Catholic politicians, following the first Catholic president, have followed his lead, and have divorced faith not just from the public square, but from their own decision-making process,” Santorum said.

The crowd responded with nods and applause.

Of course, they did, because these comments fit right in with the conservative meme on this issue. Unfortunately,  they don’t fit in with either reality, or with the history of the First Amendment itself.

Santorum isn’t the first conservative to single out President Kennedy on the issue of religion and politics. Sarah Palin once made similar comments in a book,  which prompted a response from one of Kennedy’s nieces:

In her new book, “America by Heart,” Palin objects to my uncle’s famous 1960 speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, in which he challenged the ministers – and the country – to judge him, a Catholic presidential candidate, by his views rather than his faith. “Contrary to common newspaper usage, I am not the Catholic candidate for president,” Kennedy said. “I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for president who happens also to be a Catholic.”

Palin writes that when she was growing up, she was taught that Kennedy’s speech had “succeeded in the best possible way: It reconciled public service and religion without compromising either.” Now, however, she says she has revisited the speech and changed her mind. She finds it “defensive . . . in tone and content” and is upset that Kennedy, rather than presenting a reconciliation of his private faith and his public role, had instead offered an “unequivocal divorce of the two.”

(…)

Palin fails to understand the genius of our nation. The United States is one of the most vibrant religious countries on Earth precisely because of its religious freedom. When power and faith are entwined, faith loses. Power tends to obfuscate, corrupt and focus on temporal rather than eternal purposes.

Somehow Palin misses this. Perhaps she didn’t read the full Houston speech; she certainly doesn’t know it by heart. Or she may be appealing to a religious right that really seeks secular power. I don’t know.

I am certain, however, that no American political leader should cavalierly – or out of political calculation – dismiss the hard-won ideal of religious freedom that is among our country’s greatest gifts to the world. As John F. Kennedy said in Houston, that is the “kind of America I believe in.”

What is it, though, about that speech by John F. Kennedy that seems to arouse so much ire on right? It’s probably worthwhile to remember the context in which the speech was given. John F. Kennedy was only the second Catholic to be a major party nominee for President of the United States. The first, Al Smith, had lost in a landslide in 1928 thanks in no small part to anti-Catholic bias even among traditionally Democratic constituencies. When Kennedy ran 32 years later, the same questions about whether he would somehow secretly be taking orders from the Pope came up, even after he survived a Democratic primary battle where the issue played a role in states such as West Virginia. So, in mid-September 1960, Kennedy went to Houston and addressed the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, a interdenominational group of Protestant ministers, on the question of both the role of his own faith in his potential Presidency, and his view of the role of religion in politics. The words he spoke are ones that still resonate today:

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute–where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishoners for whom to vote–where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference–and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish–where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source–where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials–and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew–or a Quaker–or a Unitarian–or a Baptist. It was Virginia’s harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that helped lead to Jefferson’s statute of religious freedom. Today I may be the victim- -but tomorrow it may be you–until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril.

Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end–where all men and all churches are treated as equal–where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice–where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind–and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.

What could possibly be objectionable about this? Well I suppose if you live in the world of the evangelical conservatives where America is supposedly a nation founded on the Christian religion with the divine blessing of the Most High, you’d consider Kennedy an apostate. When you look at the historical evidence however, it’s fairly clear that the conservative notion that America was founded as a “Christian Nation” just isn’t true at all:

Contrary to those on the right who seem to think that the only books they ever consulted were the Old and New Testaments, the Founders were in fact more influenced by the writings of men like John Locke and Algernon Sidney than they were by anything in the Bible. Jefferson’s most famous phrase “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” came from Locke’s “Life, Liberty, and Property,” for instance. More importantly, at the time of the American Revolution, the natural rights tradition that the Founders relied upon owed more to the Greeks than it did to Christianity or theology:

In reality, neither Jewish nor Christian traditions know anything of the ideas of natural rights and social contract found in Hobbes, Gassendi and Locke. That’s because those ideas were inspired by themes found in non-Christian Greek and Roman philosophy. Ideas of the social contract were anticipated in the fourth and fifth centuries BC by the sophists Glaucon and Lycophron, according to Plato and Aristotle, and by Epicurus, who banished divine activity from a universe explained by natural forces and taught that justice is an agreement among people neither to harm nor be harmed. The idea that all human beings are equal by nature also comes from the Greek sophists and was planted by the Roman jurist Ulpian in Roman law: “quod ad ius naturale attinet, omnes homines aequales sunt” — according to the law of nature, all human beings are equal.

Moreover, the Founders were far less orthodox in their religious  beliefs were far less orthodox that religious conservatives would like to believe. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, for example, were Deists  who believed in a Creator who played absolutely no role in the affairs of the world, and considered much of the New Testament to be mere superstitions, which is the reason Jefferson created his own version of the teachings of Jesus which completely deleted any reference to his being of Divine origin. Several Founders were Unitarians, and others were practicing Anglicans who clearly took a far more casual view of their faith than religious conservatives would like to think they did.

John Tyler, America’s 10th President made this point in a letter in 1843:

“The United States have adventured upon a great and noble experiment, which is believed to have been hazarded in the absence of all previous precedent — that of total separation of Church and State. No religious establishment by law exists among us. The conscience is left free from all restraint and each is permitted to worship his Maker after his own judgment. The offices of the Government are open alike to all. No tithes are levied to support an established Hierarchy, nor is the fallible judgment of man set up as the sure and infallible creed of faith. The Mohammedan, if he will to come among us would have the privilege guaranteed to him by the constitution to worship according to the Koran; and the East Indian might erect a shrine to Brahma, if it so pleased him. Such is the spirit of toleration inculcated by our political Institutions.”

George Washington sent this message to a Hebrew Congregation in 1790:

“The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy — a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support … May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants — while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.”

It’s true that the Founders were religious men in keeping with the customs of their times. However, there’s absolutely no evidence that they  intended to create a nation whose government played any role at all in the religious lives of its citizens, or where religion played any role in government. In other words, Kennedy was right and Santorum is wrong.

Perhaps someone needs to sit the former Senator from Pennsylvania down and make sure he watches this speech, and understands it:

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Religion, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
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. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Ron Beasley says:

    The American Taliban have never read any of the writings of the Founding Fathers they deify. Of course most of them haven’t read the Bible either. Just the passages of the Bible the charlatans who lead their flocks want them to know about.

  2. @Ron Beasley:

    I’m not sure I like the phrase “American Taliban” because of its connotations. I do, however, think the phrase “American Pharisees” is quite appropriate.

    Other than that, I agree with you.

  3. legion says:

    “Kennedy took words written to protect religion from the government and used them to shield the government from religion,” Santorum added

    This statement right here is the “tell”. Santorum, like all the other zealots in modern politics, considers his own personal beliefs to be the only “true religion” – the only faith worthy of the term, and therefore of the “protection” he’s trying to claim here. Make no mistake, Santorum and his ilk will turn right around and persecute the living crap out of every religion or sect they don’t personally follow the very instant the think they have the power to…

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    More importantly, at the time of the American Revolution, the natural rights tradition that the Founders relied upon owed more to the Greeks than it did to Christianity or theology

    Essentially, that’s hooey. The Founding Fathers knew virtually nothing of the ancient Greeks other than what was dragged through a Christian manuscript tradition. Most had little Latin and less Greek.

    I agree that we’re not a Christian nation. Nor are we a Judaeo-Christian nation. But the Enlightenment of which the Founders were a part owed much more to the Italian Humanists who came from an explicitly Christian tradition than from the Greeks. That’s just window-dressing.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    I believe our democratic tradition — rule only by the consent of the governed — is the next evolutionary step after “rule by divine right,” which followed, “rule because the legions said so,” which was preceded by “rule because I said so,” which of course flowed from “rule because me big stick hit you hurt bad.”

    Religion has always had the same role in government: to justify whatever some power-mad egomaniac wanted to do.

  6. John D'Geek says:

    Unfortunately, the reason that Santorum and his ilk resonate with conservative voters is because conservatives are regularly being told that they do not have the freedom to act according to their conscience. If Obama can figure out how to tap into that fear/concern, he will be nigh unto unstoppable.

  7. Dave Schuler says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I agree with your first paragraph, Michael. Well put.

  8. Barb Hartwell says:

    He is a loon, How can anyone feel safe with him at the wheel.

  9. Ron Beasley says:

    The early Americans and the founding fathers were greatly influenced by the Haudenosaunee’s Great Law of Peace. The Haudensosaunee was a military alliance among the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga and Mohawk tribes in the NE.
    Great Law of Peace:

    Historians, including Donald Grinde of the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, have claimed that the democratic ideals of the Gayanashagowa provided a significant inspiration to Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and other framers of the United States Constitution. Franklin circulated copies of the proceedings of the 1744 Treaty of Lancaster among his fellow colonists; at the close of this document, the Iroquois leaders offer to impart instruction in their democratic methods of government to the English. John Rutledge of South Carolina, delegate to the Constitutional Convention, is said to have read lengthy tracts of Iroquoian law to the other framers, beginning with the words “We, the people, to form a union, to establish peace, equity, and order…”[2] In October 1988, the US Congress passed

    Concurrent Resolution 331 to recognize the influence of the Iroquois Constitution upon the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

  10. grumpy realist says:

    Actually, quite a lot of the US Declaration of Independence seems to have come out of Resistance Theory. which was really formulated under the fights between the Protestants and Catholics in Germany (and elsewhere.) Also see Bartolus (“De Tyrannis”) and other commentators about the right of humans to fight against tyrannical rulers. Remember that the Divine Right of Kings is relatively late as a philosophy–if any medieval king would have tried it his people would have erupted laughing.

    And I know damn well where that requirement in the US Constitution came from about what comprises treason and how it is evidenced. The Founding Fathers took a look at what had happened in the city-states in Italy and wanted no part of it. (Ditto with impacts from the Star Chamber in England.)

  11. Septimius says:

    “Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, for example, were Deists who believed in a Creator who played absolutely no role in the affairs of the world”

    “I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the Builders of Babel . . . I therefore beg leave to move— that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that Service.”

    -Benjamin Franklin
    June 28, 1787

  12. @Dave Schuler:

    John Adams

    John Adams, the second President of the United States, learned to read Latin at a young age.[1] In preparation for attending Harvard University, Adams attended a school for improving his Latin skills.[2] Adams translated a number of classical Latin works into English, including some works of Horace.[3] He also demonstrated proficiency in Hebrew by translating books of the Old Testament into English. He also translated parts of the New Testament from Greek.[3] While posted in France, Adams became fluent in French.[4] Matthew Adams claimed that John Adams knew nine languages and had translated works from Greek, Latin, French, and Spanish.[3]

    Thomas Jefferson

    Thomas Jefferson read a number of different languages. In a letter to Philadelphia publisher Joseph Delaplaine on April 12, 1817, Jefferson claimed to read and write six languages: Greek, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, and English.[5] After his death, a number of other books, dictionaries, and grammar manuals in various languages were found in Jefferson’s library, suggesting that he studied additional languages beyond those he spoke and wrote well. Among these were books in Arabic, Gaelic, and Welsh.[5]

    In regard to learning Spanish, Jefferson told John Quincy Adams that he had learned the language over the course of nineteen days while sailing from the United States to France. He had borrowed a Spanish grammar and a copy of Don Quixote from a friend, and read them on the voyage. Adams expressed skepticism, noting Jefferson’s tendency to tell “large stories.”[6]

    James Madison

    James Madison began his studies of Latin at the age of twelve[7] and had already mastered both Greek and Latin by the time he entered the College of New Jersey, later Princeton University. He produced many translations of Latin works, including translations of Grotius, Pufendorf, and Vattel.[7] He also studied Horace and Ovid.[7] He learned Greek as an admissions requirement for higher college learning.[7]

    While in college, Madison learned to speak and read Hebrew.[1] When he could have graduated, Madison remained at college for an additional year to study ethics and Hebrew in greater depth.[8]

    Link

    My dad has a pretty extensive collection of Jefferson’s writings, particularly his letters and there are letters between Adams and Jefferson containing both Latin and Greek.

    In one letter to Chastellux, Jefferosn talks about the prosody of English compared to Latin and Greek.

    [Editors Note: Link to Wikipedia was shortened to correct formatting error. No content was altered]

  13. Dave Schuler says:

    @Timothy Watson:

    You might want to check out Jefferson’s library. To the best of my knowledge he did not possess a copy of, for example, Plato’s Republic in Greek, only a heavily amended version, compiled by Italians in a combination of Greek and Latin.

    No authoritative critical edition of Plato’s Republic existed in Jefferson’s time. There were many corrupted editions of varying levels of quality. To this day there is no such thing as a complete original uncorrupted version of The Republic. It simply does not exist.

    It’s pretty hard to assess how much Latin and Greek Jefferson actually knew. Judging by his library I think it’s most likely that his familiarity with classical works was mostly through reading them in French translation.

    The key point here is it doesn’t really matter whether he knew Greek or not since The Republic with which he might have been familiar was so heavily edited by 15th, 16th, and 17th century (mostly Italian) writers.

  14. mattb says:

    @Septimius:
    A good quote, though it should be noted was part of a larger spoken appeal Franklin was making to the Constitutional Convention, which at the time had been deadlocked over some issues, to begin each meeting with a prayer (in the hopes that it might bring the warring sides together).

    It would be a mistake to use any single writing of Franklin’s or the other Founding Fathers as “proof” of the totality of their beliefs. That said, in his last days, in responding to a letter from the President of Yale, Franklin laid out his basic tenents of faith thusly:

    You desire to know something of my religion. It is the first time I have been questioned upon it. But I cannot take your curiosity amiss, and shall endeavor in a few words to gratify it.

    Here is my creed.

    I believe in one God, the creator of the universe.
    That he governs by his providence.
    That he ought to be worshipped.
    That the most acceptable service we render to him is doing good to his other children.
    That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this.
    These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever sect I meet with them.

    As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire,

    I think his system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes,
    and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his divinity;
    though it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble.
    I see no harm, however, in its being believed, if that belief has the good consequences, as probably it has, of making his doctrines more respected and more observed;
    especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the unbelievers in his government of the world with any peculiar marks of his displeasure.
    Benj. Franklin, Letter to Ezra Stiles, 9 March 1790, in John Bigelow, ed., The Works of Benjamin Franklin, at 12:185-86 (New York: Putnam’s, 1904) (paragraphing edited and bullets added for readability).

    It seems somewhat striking to me that Franklin, for all of his faith, would be more open to atheists serving in government than many US citizens today.

  15. jd says:

    Rearrange the letters of “Santorum” and you get: “A Nostrum”. As in – Noun:
    1. A medicine, esp. an ineffective one, prepared by an unqualified person.
    2. A pet scheme, esp. one for bringing about some social or political reform or improvement.

  16. Gulliver says:

    @Mataconis

    How, exactly is any GOP / Conservative politician, at any level, seeking to impose the rules of a religious doctrine through policy? In other words, I see a number of men and women in politics who openly speak about their beliefs on major issues – but where does that translate into executive action forcing a particular doctrinal view through policy?

    I see the usual trumpet call of alarm from the left, but I see no justification for the alarm. From my persepective, it seems as though just speaking publicly about private conservative beliefs is somehow tantamount to trying to overthrow the democratic process and – suddenly – we’re hearing all about how this or that person is “extreme” and the tone suggests that we’re tip-toeing on the precipice and about to fall into the abyss of despotic, theocratic rule in Government.

    The overall impression I get from liberals or libertarians is that private convictions or values have no place being spokem about in public life. This makes absolutely no sense if one wishes to have governmance based upon honest transparency rather than kabuki theater.

  17. Septimius says:

    @mattb: I agree that a single writing is not necessarily evidence of the totality of someone’s beliefs.

    I would never describe Benjamin Franklin as a Christian, but he was definitely NOT a Deist. Deism was the belief in a Creator who set the universe in motion and then stepped away to let it run on its own. From your own quote it is clear that Franklin believed in providence, which is the idea that God intervenes in the world. Franklin had much respect for Christianity and religion in general and believed that religion was a benefit to society.

  18. mattb says:

    @Septimius: Fair points dougs statement would have been correct if he had used Paine insted of Franklin.

  19. mattb says:

    @Gulliver:

    How, exactly is any GOP / Conservative politician, at any level, seeking to impose the rules of a religious doctrine through policy?

    Umm… Same sex marriage seems to be one area that immediately comes to mind. Abortion seems another one… when we getto the state and local level i am happy to bringupbsome other ones…

  20. Rick DeMent says:

    @Gulliver:

    How, exactly is any GOP / Conservative politician, at any level, seeking to impose the rules of a religious doctrine through policy? In other words, I see a number of men and women in politics who openly speak about their beliefs on major issues – but where does that translate into executive action forcing a particular doctrinal view through policy?

    I would submit the current wave of “personhood” amendments being brought about in various states is based purely on religious beliefs. I mean the only way you can objectively give full rights of personhood to a zygote is through religious doctrine, it can’t be done by science. I mean my god a baby isn’t even self-aware until about 1 and a 1/2 years at the earliest. A developing fetus doesn’t have higher brain functions until sometime around 22 weeks (and that’s being charitable. There is nothing about a 12 week old fetus that has any human characteristics whatsoever and they want to extend “rights” over the already living mother to them. The only thing that males a zygote, of fetus in any way “human” is religious belief.

    And also the already mentioned Gay marriage issue, rank religious dogma not even vaguely disguised as objective policy

  21. Also don’t forget that our country, like England, explicitly rejected the church inspired Roman Law system prevalent in most of Continental Europe in favor of the Norse (i.e. Pagan) common law system.

    There’s a reason there’s a book of the Bible called Judges, but none called Juries.

  22. Neil Hudelson says:

    Religion? Is that still around?

  23. de stijl says:

    I know that Santorum is the topic at hand, but I’m also intrigued by Romney’s critique of Obama’s so-called “secular agenda” on Monday. I know it’s supposed to be a dog-whistle meaning “He’s an atheist and wants to destroy religion”, but it just seems such an odd verbal choice.

    I mean, given our constitution, you’d want a President to have a secular agenda. If he or she had a religious agenda, that would be the troublesome situation.

  24. Peterh says:

    How, exactly is any GOP / Conservative politician, at any level, seeking to impose the rules of a religious doctrine through policy?

    Stem-cell research…..you friggin’ knucklehead……

  25. anjin-san says:

    Franklin had much respect for Christianity and religion in general and believed that religion was a benefit to society.

    Franklin would pimp slap Santorum on general principles…

  26. JohnMcC says:

    Here is the crux of the matter as I see it: The Christianist wing-nut right is convinced that they have the truth revealed by God. What political accomodation is necessary with those who don’t? None.

  27. grumpy realist says:

    I think anyone who wonders why we shouldn’t let a bunch of religious nuts start running the government simply look at Iran. Or at the problem Israel is now having in Jerusalem and some of the nearby towns.

    A bunch of religious nuts are no less dangerous because they’re Christian. I suggest someone who wishes to be informed on this matter take a look at the wars in Europe after old Luther nailed his theses to the door.

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gulliver:

    How, exactly is any GOP / Conservative politician, at any level, seeking to impose the rules of a religious doctrine through policy?

    Gulliver, I find your ability to type so eloquent a post with nary a mistake whilst also being so thoroughly blind, truly admirable.

  29. sam says:

    I once had a copy of the Lotus Sutra, and the prefatory passage went something like this:

    From the Buddha of the Emerald World to the Buddha of the Earthly Word: I send you this Lotus Sutra to aid you in your mission, for the bodhisattvas of your world are very difficult to deal with.

    Smart guys, those Buddhas.

  30. OCleoNib says:

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  31. Ron Beasley says:

    @OCleoNib: SPAM

  32. scott says:

    @Gulliver: End times theology is driving Israeli/Mid East policy.

  33. merl says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Talibaptists is my preferred term.

  34. WR says:

    @OCleoNib: And yet, so much preferable to Jay Tea.

  35. mannning says:

    We are indeed fortunate to have the freedoms of religion and speech in our nation. That we are about 80% or so Christian means that we Christians bring our reason, faith and beliefs to the assessment of candidates and issues, and thence to the voting booth.

    This will persist for a long time to come, since so few currently separate state beliefs from certain religious beliefs very critically in their own thinking processes, and hence in their preferred choices of political leaders and solution of issues. Most of the persistence of many key social issues in the public mind attest to this state-religion melding by individuals through the teachings of Christianity by the clergy and the Bible.

    Some of the clergy preach weekly about the rise of non-Christian thoughts and beliefs in the nation, and the disruption it causes to members of their congregation when they are faced with making an informed political choice that goes against their strong religious teachings–or not.

  36. sam says:

    @mannning:

    Some of the clergy preach weekly about the rise of non-Christian thoughts and beliefs in the nation, and the disruption it causes to members of their congregation

    Mon Dieu!

  37. mantis says:

    How, exactly is any GOP / Conservative politician, at any level, seeking to impose the rules of a religious doctrine through policy?

    I know much of this has been covered, but here’s a list:

    – Blocking marriage equality
    – Outlawing/restricting reproductive choice
    – Birth control restrictions
    – Injecting religion into science education
    – Substituting sex education with abstinence-only education
    – Insisting there is no separation between church and state
    – Advocating wars in the Middle East for religious (usually millennialist) reasons
    – Opposing the UN because it is a harbinger of the Apocalypse
    – Opposition to euthanasia/death with dignity
    – Attempts to outlaw pornography and other expressions seen as immoral/irreligious
    – Opposition to divorce/no-fault divorce
    – Intervention at a federal level into personal medical issues (Terri Schiavo, etc.)
    – Opposition to stem-cell and biotechnology research
    – Opposition to legalized prostitution
    – Opposition to legalized gambling
    – Forced prayer in public schools

    That’s just off the top of my head. There’s probably more.

  38. Ron Beasley says:

    @merl: I like it!

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    symptoms cancer

  40. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @mantis: Norm, you forgot displaying the 10 commandments in every court of the land. Also, why you botha? Gulliver is quite blind. I feel secure in saying that he is probably deaf as well.

  41. mannning says:

    @mantis:

    I took your list and annotated my own positions after each statement. From my responses, it must be clear that I am not Catholic, rather a loose form of Episcopalian.

    1- Blocking marriage equality…No, but civil unions for all, religious marriage by clergy if desired and agreed by the clergy.
    2- Outlawing/restricting reproductive choice…Yes
    3- Birth control restrictions…No
    4- Injecting religion into science education…No, but including all scientific endeavors, especially those of ID scientists that employ the scientific method in their research.
    5- Substituting sex education with abstinence-only education…No, teach the whole subject.
    6- Insisting there is no separation between church and state…No, but maintaining freedom of thought and choice for individuals.
    7- Advocating wars in the Middle East for religious (usually millennialist) reasons…No
    8- Opposing the UN because it is a harbinger of the Apocalypse…No, but there are good reasons to minimize the role of the UN, and to maintain our sovereignty entirely whole for a long time to come.
    9- Opposition to euthanasia/death with dignity…No, but the individual must retain the power of decision for as long as possible.
    10- Attempts to outlaw pornography and other expressions seen as immoral/irreligious…No, but opposition can be created through religion, culture, education, manners and custom.
    11- Opposition to divorce/no-fault divorce…No, but divorce should not be as easy as throwing three stones on the ground and saying three times I divorce you. The wife should not be left destitute.
    12- Intervention at a federal level into personal medical issues (Terri Schiavo, etc.)…No
    13- Opposition to stem-cell and biotechnology research… No
    14-Opposition to legalized prostitution…No
    15- Opposition to legalized gambling…No
    16- Forced prayer in public schools…the key is “forced” so No, but unforced, Yes.

    Well, I seem to go “No” with this list with a few exceptions, notably on reproductive choice, and agreeing with unforced prayer in schools. Which goes to show, I suppose, that there are a few religious issues that will not go away at voting time.

  42. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Mantis, my apology. I had Norm in my head for some reason.

  43. QIveyIev says:

    I’m sorry maybe I’m missing something…why would we be upset??
    You have applied for a website…are you saying you have no special as is dictated by this website? If the position wants whoever with the experience of working abroad and you fit that then whats the problem??

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  44. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @mannning:

    Outlawing/restricting reproductive choice…Yes

    WAHHOOOOO!!!! Fertility boards here we come!

    Thanx Manning for demonstrating your inner Nazi so clearly.

  45. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @mannning:

    2- Outlawing/restricting reproductive choice…Yes
    3- Birth control restrictions…No

    I am in awe of your ability to write the first sentence, and then immediately writing the second. I would have gotten whiplash of the brain doing that.

    You are my God.

  46. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @mannning:

    Injecting religion into science education…No, but including all scientific endeavors, especially those of ID scientists that employ the scientific method in their research.

    Name one. I dare you.

  47. BRianMea says:

    I should tell you a bit about myself too, I suppose! So, my name is Michael and I’m the pages manager. Being the website manager involves managing the blogs (surprise!) and supporting the users and our moderation staff. I worked with forum as a moderator from 2007-2009 after becoming blogs Manager and, after that, was the owner of a few fan-blogs for online contests and the like.

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  48. mannning says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Dare? OK. Michael Behe.

  49. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @mannning:

    Wow Manning…. you got reasonable on me. I may have to start reading your posts again.

    As to:

    15- Opposition to legalized gambling…No

    Seeing as most gambling is rigged in the favor of the guy (ie. the casino) taking the bet, I am not, and never have been, in favor of the so called “Legalized taking of money from old people who are really bad at math and can’t afford it anyway”….

    There is something morally wrong with it, plain and simple. I may not get into heaven because I don’t believe in Jesus as Christ, but everyone who thinks rigging the game against the weak is OK,…

    Well, they are going straight to hell.

  50. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @mannning: What? No link? Do I have to do your work for you? Give me a link, and I will spend my energy destroying your argument. Not figuring out what your argument is.

    And in truth (sorry) you have about 2 1/2 minutes to do it as I have to start making dinner for the best woman in the world, the woman I love, the woman I don’t deserve.

    Yeah, I laid down down a glove and then ignored it when you picked it up…. Sorry, when it comes down to my women’s needs, and your desires???? You lose.

  51. grumpy realist says:

    @mannning: He’s never demonstrated that when confronted with data showing the opposite to a theory of his, that he would modify the theory.

    The man is a scientific idiot.

  52. Ron Beasley says:

    @BRianMea: More SPAM

  53. KariQ says:

    Michael Behe? Well, at least he is a scientist, although evolutionary biology isn’t his field (he’s a protein biochemist). He admitted that there no articles advocating a ID that have supporting experimental or mathematical support, and that his own article which is sometimes cited as one such article actually proves the opposite – that complex biochemical systems could evolve. His own work undermines his claim.

    Behe was a star witness in the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, where the judge (a church-going Christian and Republican, for the record) ruled that intelligent design is unscientific and based on religion. He found specifically that Behe’s testimony was not credible because his definition of “science” was so lose that it would include astrology – using the stars to predict the future, and (even better) that belief in God was necessary to find intelligent design plausible.

    Intelligent design is just a religious doctrine, not science.

  54. mannning says:

    If James will start another thread on ID, I would be happy to debate the issue, but this is veering too far towards hijacking this thread.

    I will say that I do not consider a judge to be qualified to make an opinion of what is and what isn’t science. In fact, there is an extremely fuzzy definition line between what is and what isn’t science, and you need to consult science philosophers to sort it out, not your run-of-the-mill scientist. Try J. P. Moreland.

    You could read “The Edge of Evolution” some time, and delve further into Behe’s work and theses.

  55. mannning says:

    J. P. Moreland states that; “There is no set of necessary and sufficient conditions by which to define science.” He does agree, however, that there are useful rules of thumb that can help to clarify what science is. He believes that the application of the methods and tools of science in ID Theory can be accepted, then, as being within the purview of science.

  56. KariQ says:

    Would you regard the Biological Sciences department at Lehigh University as “qualified” to determine what is science? Their statement:

    The faculty in the department of biological sciences is committed to the highest standards of scientific integrity and academic function. This commitment carries with it unwavering support for academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas. It also demands the utmost respect for the scientific method, integrity in the conduct of research, and recognition that the validity of any scientific model comes only as a result of rational hypothesis testing, sound experimentation, and findings that can be replicated by others

    The department faculty, then, are unequivocal in their support of evolutionary theory, which has its roots in the seminal work of Charles Darwin and has been supported by findings accumulated over 140 years. The sole dissenter from this position, Prof. Michael Behe, is a well-known proponent of “intelligent design.” While we respect Prof. Behe’s right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department.It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific.

  57. KariQ says:

    By the way, I noticed you completely glossed over the parts where Behe himself admitted that there is no evidence supporting intelligent design and that it only makes sense if you already believe in God. These two facts, by themselves, are fatal to any claim that intelligent design is science rather than religion.

  58. mannning says:

    The short answer is no. The entire question is so very loaded with religiosity , politics, funding issues, philosophy issues, and highly mistaken scientific opinions that unraveling it all takes an enormous effort.

    A central issue in the argument is the challenge to neo-Darwinism, which opens up an wide-ranging super-argument about which many books have been written. Defending Darwinism is at the bottom of the resistance to ID, since evolution is a cornerstone of support to atheism and many atheists.

    I do not believe that anyone can be persuaded with simple references to authority, since both sides have their Authorities to throw in. I will simply go with Moreland and Paul Johnson. You should note that my qualifier was …uses the scientific method… which Behe most certainly does. I suggest that William Dembski is in the same category as Behe. They do not tout any religion at all, but simply the quest to discover evidence of design in nature, which is a quite proper scientific endeavor.

    I will end my responses here. Perhaps this subject is worth a thread; there have been many on the web over the years concerning ID. It has the property of forcing deep philosophical argumentation, much deeper than circuit court judges and ordinary scientists can handle, or even wish to handle. They generally do not like to dwell on the question:” What is science”, but would rather state:” well, that is what I do, and then to go do it!”

  59. Tillman says:

    Defending Darwinism is at the bottom of the resistance to ID, since evolution is a cornerstone of support to atheism and many atheists.

    Only for those who think Genesis needs to be taken literally.

    As I often have to say, people who disagree with evolution on religious grounds do not know what the word “omnipotence” means.

    You can say ID isn’t Creationism, and I’ll just nod.

  60. An Interested Party says:

    How odd that evolution is supposedly a cornerstone of atheism and yet the Catholic Church doesn’t have a problem with evolution…perhaps all those Catholics don’t realize what they are doing to support atheism…

  61. mannning says:

    @An Interested Party:

    If you read your reference fully, you would discover a killer of a condition: the Catholic Church can agree with natural selection and descent only if there is no violation of the tenets of Catholicism, one of which is that God must supervise every step of the way down. I do not believe this is any comfort for atheists.

    Behe, whio is also Catholic, accepts natural selection and descent, but challenges that the time needed for the massive modifications required to produce man is simply not available. Dembski agrees with this and offers a mathematical proof of the lack of time. So, with God at every step and insufficient time for incremental modifications to take place, there goes Neo-Darwinism, and atheists find cold comfort from Catholics.

  62. mannning says:

    I should have emphasized that these modifications are in fact random and goalless modifications in neo-Darwinism.

  63. sam says:

    For critiques of Behe’s position, see Irreducible Complexity and Michael Behe. For critiques of Dempsky, see William Dembski.

  64. sam says:

    @mannning:

    If you read your reference fully, you would discover a killer of a condition: the Catholic Church can agree with natural selection and descent only if there is no violation of the tenets of Catholicism, one of which is that God must supervise every step of the way down.

    Evidently you don’t realize that that makes God irrelevant as an explanatory principle. God cancels out, as it were. And this because the statement “God must supervise every step of the way down” reduces to a tautology, for nothing could count as a step unless supervised by God. That is, S is a step if and only if supervised by God. But then there could no piece of empirical evidence that could contradict that, for any such piece of “evidence” would not be evidence at all since it would not count as a step. The assertion that God supervises every step etc. is not falsifiable, and thus can form no part of any empirical, that is to say, scientific explanation. God cancels out.

    As for Behe’s basic argument, that there is not enough time for the processes of evolution to account for the complexity of life forms, well, that strikes me as an exercise in question begging (in the logical sense of petitio principii). But I refer the reader to the critiques cited above.

  65. mannning says:

    @sam:

    What part of omnipotence and omnipresence of God in the Christian faith do you refuse to accept? You are asserting that God conforms to human logic and human definitions of science, when He simply does as He wishes. You meet Him at every step and on every corner, so it is your problem of definition of science and proper evidence in and with the presence of God that is in the way. God simply is, and is there. I sense an atheistic viewpoint here.

    I suggest to you that you yourself have not done the necessary definitions and calculations to deliver a valid critique of Behe’s and Dembski’s arguments, and had rather defer to the hit pieces from others. So be it.

  66. sam says:

    Manning, respond to the argument I presented.

  67. sam says:

    Instead of waving your arms.

  68. KariQ says:

    The challenge OzarkHillbilly gave was to name, in your words, “ID scientists that employ the scientific method in their research.” Behe uses the scientific method in his work, but his work is NOT ID science. His work does not in any way advocate, advance, promote or provide evidence for ID. He admitted himself that this is true. He also admitted that no scientist is doing this work. There are no ID scientists following the scientific method.

    Behe advocates for ID in works that are aimed at the general audience, not scientists.

    Simply put, Manning, you failed the challenge.

  69. mannning says:

    @KariQ:

    Cite a specific reference for your statements about Behe if you are not blowing smoke.

    @sam:

    Sorry, if the two “O’s” are not sufficient to put God firmly into everything, everywhere, and always, which is a Christian belief, then there must be something missing in your logic.
    Perhaps it is God Himself. “Wave!”

  70. sam says:

    @mannning:

    Pathetic, Manning, just pathetic. And more proof, if any was needed, that you grasp of philosophy and logic falls between weak and nonexistent. I’ve no respect for your mind.

  71. An Interested Party says:

    I’ve no respect for your mind.

    Most people around here would probably agree with you…

  72. grumpy realist says:

    @sam: Exactly. It’s like having a poker game and arguing for the existence of the Poker Fairy because you drew a Royal Flush.

  73. mannning says:

    @sam:

    The feeling is mutual, especially since you yourself cannot state a coherent and properly framed question, or respect a religious tenet. I get the impression that you are dealing from the bottom of the deck and really do not have any convincing answers to your own question yourself within the framework of Christian theology. Perhaps outside of it, but not in it, which may be the real point here: Godlessness.

    To expand on my “O” point, the way I see it, God has at least four possible reactions(if not more) in His supervision at every level: 1) Establish the states and transitions initially, which is not observable by man until completed; 2) Observe the state transition once established but not interfere, where man can observe, count and record it (which is the usual case); 3) Modify the state transition to suit His plan, which is observable and countable by man after the fact; and, 4) Halt the state transition, which event may or may not be observable by man in detail. So, for the most part, if the state changes are above the threshold of observability by instrumentation, man can make his own empirical observations in by far the majority of cases. Yet God, in His creative “O-ness” is ever present, and can act if He decides to act, which is rather far from being canceled out.

  74. sam says:

    Manning, respond directly to this argument:

    Your assertion: God must supervise every step of the way down.

    That makes God irrelevant as an explanatory principle. God cancels out, as it were. And this because the statement “God must supervise every step of the way down” reduces to a tautology, for nothing could count as a step unless supervised by God. That is, S is a step if and only if supervised by God. But then there could no piece of empirical evidence (that is, a step) that could contradict that, for any such piece of “evidence” would not be evidence at all since it would not count as a step (S is a step if and only if supervised by God). The assertion that God supervises every step etc. is not falsifiable, and thus can form no part of any empirical, that is to say, scientific explanation. God cancels out.

  75. mannning says:

    The assertion that God supervises every step etc. is not falsifiable, and thus can form no part of any empirical, that is to say, scientific explanation. God cancels out.

    Well, if you refer to my last post, it is and has been to me all along quite obvious that man can and indeed does form empirical/scientific explanations from what he specifically observes, independently from God; that is, if observable at all per my previous post. It is Man the scientist that has done the canceling out of God, because, understandably, there is no way he can observe and account for the hidden hand of God on his own.

    But God, while still “there” in “His O-ness”, uncanceled in His own right, possibly may, or more likely may not, chose to become, and show Himself to us to be, part of the explanation, as He did ages ago, but He is more likely to continue much of the mystery of what might be observed by man….