Why the religious right has a permanent political edge over secular America

If you believe any of the hogwash about the irrelevance of the religious right to this election, take a look … Continued

If you believe any of the hogwash about the irrelevance of the religious right to this election, take a look at the numerous right-wing evangelical websites promoting the 40/40 Prayer Vigil, which began in September with a prayer for Christian voter registration and ends–you guessed it–just before election day, Nov. 2. The 40/40 stands for the forty days and forty nights that Jesus supposedly spent wandering in the desert before finally saying no to Satan’s temptations. I’m sure that you won’t have any trouble figuring out which political party the Southern Baptist Convention–America’s largest religious denomination and one of the many evangelical groups sponsoring pre-election prayer vigils–hopes will inspire its voters to just say no to the satanic works of government. It’s perfectly legal; after all; none of these sites actually say that the purpose of these prayer fest/voter registration drives is to support Tea Party and Republican candidates who share the religious rights views on cultural issues.

But just look at the iVoteValues packet that appears on the websites of many Southern Baptist churches and state affiliates. Each church is advised to organize an iVoteValues team responsible for:

* Planning, advertising and conducting non-partisan voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives.

* Educating the congregation regarding biblical teaching on civil government, the responsibility for culture engagement, and the importance of being informed by biblical principles when considering current issues, candidates’ positions, etc.

* Mobilizing members of the congregation to vote their values.

Oh, and let the church not forget to provide transportation to the polls for those who need it. In a strictly nonpartisan spirit, of course. What is so ingenious and insidious about all of this is that the tax-exempt churches manage to stay just this side of their Internal Revenue Service exemption by using that single word “nonpartisan.” If you think any of those church members, well-schooled in their particular version of biblical teaching on civil government, are voting for liberal or centrist politicians, I have a bridge between Manhattan and Brooklyn to sell you.

Again, my point is not that any of this activity is illegal. African-American churches have conducted similar voter registration drives for years, and we know that African Americans generally vote Democratic.The point is that church-based registration offers a graphic demonstration of why secular get-out-the-vote efforts are at a permanent political disadvantage in this country. And the right benefits most, because it has the largest churchgoing constituency in this nation.

No secular organization is capable of mounting anything like an organized, church-funded campaign to recruit new voters. Churches reach deep into the daily lives of their most devout members in a way that no secular group can (or, for that matter, would want to do). Secular humanism and atheism are not religions, and no one goes to the First Church of Atheism to find out what Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens has to say about how to “vote our values.” The whole idea of registering voters, while engaging in some ritual reflection for forty days before an election, would be laughable to most secularists.

All of the usual suspects are involved in efforts to get out the religious right vote in this election, as Americans United For Separation of Church and State reports in the new isssue of Church and State magazine. The main organizer of Pray & A.C.T., another 40-day bout of prayer and fasting prior to the elections, is the Rev. Jim Garlow, a longtime associate of Newt Gingrich.

This is good news for the Tea Party, the Republican Party, and all who support religious intrusion into civil government. It is bad news for Democrats (as it was for the moderate Republican Mike Castle in Delaware), liberals, true libertarians (Rand Paul has renounced whatever libertarian principles he had in order to court the values voters of the religious right) and anyone who upholds the separation of church and state. While a minority of atheists are right-wingers in the tradition of Ayn Rand–you can read a few on this thread–the majority of secular voters are humanists, civil libertarians and economic liberals. The well-organized efforts of this religious right in this election are bad news, therefore, for all secular causes.

There has been a lot of blather from pundits about the Tea Party being an expression of populist economic rage rather than another manifestion of the religious right’s long-term focus on cultural issues. It is about both but of the two, the tie to the religious right is most important. The candidates who are going to receive the votes of people being registered in right-wing churches are opposed to all forms of gay rights, women’s reproductive rights, respect for the separation of church and state and in favor of every form of religious entanglement with government. They have pursued and will pursue their goals in good economic times and in bad.

There is another reason why the secular vote will be a much smaller proportion of the total vote in this election than it was in 2008. Younger voters are more secular than their elders and the new, young voters who registered to support Barack Obama have no ties to any organization that stresses the civic obligation to vote in all elections. In a brilliant article, titled “Why The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted,” in a recent issue of The New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell explains exactly why the internet, which requires minimal effort and little direct social involvement, is such a good recruiting tool for short-term enthusiasms but fails utterly as an organizer for long-term social causes. Blogging has nothing in common, in terms of level of commitment, with going to church every week and helping out with your church’s voter registration drive–or, for that matter, with the strenous get-out-the-vote efforts of old-fashioned political party machines.

Throughout the twentieth century, American intellectuals of many generations made the mistake of proclaiming that right-wing fundamentalist religion was on its deathbed. They said so after the 1925 Scopes trial, when Clarence Darrow made a fool out of the fundamentalist hero, William Jennings Bryan, on the witness stand. They said so in the late 1960s, when God was proclaimed dead. The intellectuals didn’t know that God was alive and well among fundamentalists, who then and there began organizing a network of Christians schools that would provide an education from kindergarten to college. Intellectuals made the same mistake again after Obama was elected, when pundit after pundit declared that the religion-driven culture wars were over. This was an utter delusion. The people who believe that the universe was created in six days are alive, well, and coming to a church voter registration table near you.

Note: In last week’s posts, I would have found the discussion of whether there is a nonreligious reason for condemning homosexuality quite hilarious–if only I hadn’t awakened to yet another story, this time out of the Bronx, about young men being tortured because they were thought to be gay. What can someone who purports to be a rational thinker be thinking when he says that “it is absolutely true that nature designed male and female body parts to be used together in a way that male-male parts are not.” First, if you know anything about evolution, you must know that nature, alas, is no more of an intelligent designer than any god. Yes, male and female “body parts” are the only ones that can be used for reproduction–but nature has provided us, male and female created she them, with a lot of pleasure-giving body parts that have nothing to do with reproduction. I hate to break it to you, but there are all sorts of conjunctions between men, between women, and between the two sexes that work quite well to provide such pleasure. Anything found in nature–and homosexuality, like left-handedness, is a common variation–is natural. To say that nature “intended” or “designed” something, and that any minority variation is therefore “unintended,” is to betray as much ignorance about evolution as any firebreathing fundaamentalist preacher or senatorial candidate who rejects evolution because she never saw a monkey turning into a man. I never saw a monkey turning into a homosexual man either, but since homosexuality is found in both species, I must conclude that some gay monkey did evolve.

About

  • WmarkW

    What can someone who purports to be a rational thinker be thinking when he says that “it is absolutely true that nature designed male and female body parts to be used together in a way that male-male parts are not.” The language and concepts of civil rights, used to argue that it should be illegal to deny someone a job/apartment/choice-of-spouse based on skin color, does not directly translate into making it illegal to deny those things based on participating in a behavior known to encourage transmission of contagious diseases.

  • WmarkW

    The Tea Party is the ideological flip side of ACORN and MoveOn. Those organizations operated voter drives on the implicit slogan “Don’t skip voting just because you’re unhappy with the political process; change it.” More power to all of them for increasing citizen involvement.It’s difficult to organize secularists because it’s hard to organize any group defined by non-interest in a subject. I’m sure the internet is full of Britney Spears Haters Clubs, but it’s unlikely they’re very active or do much of anything. Secularist values in government aren’t usually a democratic (small d) position that are typically voted in; they generally require judicial enforcement through the First Amendment to overturn things like school prayer that are democratically popular.The respect for Constitutional principles started going downhill when the advocates for what we now call Diversity claimed the Constitution was designed to enforce a racist and sexist system, and didn’t have to be interpreted to mean what it said if it violated their view of the good society. The Constitution does guarantee everyone political equality, but not economic or social equality. So when forced busing for integration or elimination of employee tests that had disparate impact on the less able, were declared violations of Constitional provisions, it became common to think that it needn’t be interpreted as standing in the way of a desirable societal goal.

  • RevJDSpears

    WMarkW, truly sad that you have swallowed falsehoods and made them your own. Homosexuality is both a sexual endeavor and a demographic, otherwise such things as Prop 8 in California would never have seen the light of day. To use a trait, whether that be skin color, handedness, or sexual oriention, to deny equal access to things you feel you are intitled to is clearly an unwarranted and unconstitutional violation.Forcing people to not be monogamous is condoning promiscuity. It is promiscuity and not homosexuality that encourages transmission of contagious disesase. Not one disease that gays contract is not contracted by straights. Arguing that homosexual behavior is responsible is the height of ignorance.Civil rights are not just Black Rights. TO argue that they are also speaks to poor understanding of Civil Rights.I find your remarks to be offensive on both rational grounds and spiritual ones.

  • Susan_Jacoby

    One of the many drawbacks of Web anonymity is that you never really know whether people are what they say they are; ie., an atheist, an African American, a woman, or whether they are simply making up stories (and political positions) to make mischief.I think it’s quite significant that one almost never sees anti-gay rhetoric among atheists and other secular writers who stand by their words under their own names.

  • blasmaic

    Non-religious voter registration is found everywhere throughout America.The motor-voter bill, along with other laws, have made it easier than ever for the casual citizen to get onto the rolls.Advertising through the Ad Council and various public service messages promote voting and registration without regard to politics. I particularly remember an ad featuring Madonna that ran on MTV plenty of times.I just don’t get why the Washington Post permits someone like Jacoby with such weird, paranoid conspiracy theories to write a blog. Susan, regardless of what happened to you at home as a child, the regular people of America aren’t united in a grand conspiracy to take your right to register and vote away from you.

  • WmarkW

    One of the many drawbacks of Web anonymity is that you never really know whether people are what they say they are; ie., an atheist, an African American, a woman, or whether they are simply making up stories (and political positions) to make mischief.

  • PSolus

    WmarkW,I’m guessing that you have had… how should I put this… an “interesting” life.I do not envy you.

  • gladerunner

    “Here are articles by John Derbyshire and Heather MacDonald, both contributors to SecularRight.org, opposing gay marriage”

  • PSolus

    blasmaic,”I just don’t get why the Washington Post permits someone like Jacoby with such weird, paranoid conspiracy theories to write a blog.”Many people think that same about George Will and Charles Krauthammer.What are you going to do?

  • PSolus

    edbyronadams,You appear to be confusing your own faith-based version of “Darwinian” evolution with the currently understood theory of evolution that is based on scientific evidence.

  • BlueTwo1

    The inerrant nature of religion and religious belief motivates all the right wing noise in favor of government of, by, and for the wealthy that MAY (only MAY) punish sinners as defined by the Southern Baptist Convention. Most bothersome to American authoritarians is sin related to human sexual expression. God hates Gays, Fred Phelps asserts. Hence, to be godlike, YOU must hate gays, too. Fine. Adopt all the two thousand year old philosophies you like. But also give up modern medicine, and modern technologies like automobiles, the banking system, the corner offices for you and your sons, and war on demand.

  • RBPCBP

    What I find intriguing is the fear (so called) atheists have of God and any group that believe in God.

  • gladerunner

    “Pleasure is incidental to the reproductive potential of intercourse in Darwinian terms and justifying anything on the basis of pleasure is on shaky ground for a Darwinian.”Second ‘pleasure’ is certainly an evolutionary advantage. It is also derived from more than just acts of procreation. ‘Sweet’ brings me pleasure, a kind of pleasure that is identical, though less strong than sexual pleasure. Our taste buds discern that sweet fruit is ripe, bitter fruit is not. This is an evolutionary advantage. The act of intercourse/copulation brings us pleasure, those that do so with the opposite sex produce offspring, those that do so only with same sex do not, those that do so with both, create offspring as well. But there is nothing that categorically limits intercourse/reproduction to only a preferred partner. Is it a smaller number? Of course, thus it is a minority trait.

  • PSolus

    RBPCBP,”…what are they afraid of?”Oh, I don’t know; maybe of people who hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings, people who strap bombs to their bodies and blow up trains, buses, and markets, people who kill doctors for providing medical care to women, people who feed poisoned beverages to their “flocks”, people who attempt to prevent other people from getting the medical care that they need, people who attempt to prevent people from marrying because they disagree with what they do with their “dirty” parts, people who sexually molest young boys, people who help the people who sexually molest young boys…For a start.

  • gladerunner

    “What I find intriguing is the fear (so called) atheists have of God and any group that believe in God.

  • jimdim

    The right has been flat out rejecting facts since 1980 and voodoo economics. They’ll never change and the religious fundamentalists are an important part of the denial, so the right will never stop panderaing to them. Stupidity has been winning and it looks like it will continue to win.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    WmarkW, you said,i don’t think your gene-splicing theory follows…also “right to biological reproduction”? should homosexual infertile people be “allowed” to marry? what if they only find out after marriage that one of them is infertile – do they have a mandatory divorce?

  • Susan_Jacoby

    I’m enjoying this dialogue. By the way, “On Faith” is supposed to be a conversation about politics and religion, and that is why I deal with so many political issues. Since I am a liberal, I deal with both religious and political issues from the standpoint of a politically liberal atheist. But I am not, as any regular reader of this blog knows, a liberal “multiculturalist” who confuses respect for freedom of conscience (required by our Constitution) with respect for religious beliefs themselves. Anyone who doesn’t like reading about my liberal and secular views is welcome to seek out those two or three politically right-wing and scientifically ignorant atheists who don’t understand the difference between evolution by means of natural selection and “design.”

  • bobbarnes

    Science flies man to the moon.

  • edbyronadams

    “Second ‘pleasure’ is certainly an evolutionary advantage. It is also derived from more than just acts of procreation. ‘Sweet’ brings me pleasure, a kind of pleasure that is identical, though less strong than sexual pleasure. Our taste buds discern that sweet fruit is ripe, bitter fruit is not.”Pleasure for pleasure’s sake, however, is not justified by any adaptive argument. “Sweet” leads to more calories. More calories equates to greater reproductive potential. It is difficult to justify pleasure as adaptive if it leads to lowering that potential. There obviously had to be adaptive significance to homosexuality for it to exist. However, ginning up those scenarios that could account for such selective pressure requires some imagination and reliance on group selection.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    dang it! i meant to say,

  • thatcatdavid

    “First, if you know anything about evolution, you must know that nature, alas, is no more of an intelligent designer than any god. Yes, male and female “body parts” are the only ones that can be used for reproduction–but nature has provided us, male and female created she them, with a lot of pleasure-giving body parts that have nothing to do with reproduction. I hate to break it to you, but there are all sorts of conjunctions between men, between women, and between the two sexes that work quite well to provide such pleasure…” First, I reject evolution, Christine O’Donnell was right. Sharks have lived on earth longer than man but they did not evolve. Also, was it misfortune that the dinosaurs evolved into birds and not into a more intelligent creature? Second, eating is necessary, it can be pleasurable but one should not exploit their bodies by over eating for sheer pleasure or because they are emotionally suffering. Sexual organs should not be abused for sheer pleasure either. Have you every seen an over the hill porn star? Believe me you don’t want to. I am surprised that Mrs. Jacoby would see this simple premise concerning the obviously complimentary sexual organs between men and women to be anything less than rational. It is a fact that men and women have sexual organs that compliment one another, the rational conclusion is that they were made for each other. I can’t see how that can be construed as anything but rational. I was disappointed that she would meander about in her final paragraph invoking the basic ploy of the secularist, the presupposed dangers of not knowing something, in this case evolution which is probably truly unprovable. Particularly as the basis of a scientific platform, it is more convenient than substantial.She also makes reference to the Old Testament with “male and female she created them..” which seemed to be a bit of a cop out if you are proudly proclaiming your an atheist. People use Catholic and biblical references all the time to lend gravitas to their claims although they’re mysteries but what the atheist and homosexual claim steadfastly is their dedication to rationalism and “science alone”, superior they say to God and religion. All one needs is to be armed with common sense and faith in God and he will make more sense than both the current atheists and homosexuals who want to indulge in far fetched speculations in order to maintain belief and way of life. Mrs. Jacoby, I do believe you are finally seeing the light, Hallelujah!

  • WmarkW

    i don’t think your gene-splicing theory follows…also “right to biological reproduction”? should homosexual infertile people be “allowed” to marry?We allow just about any two people of the opposite sex to marry because we don’t want a governmental entity to have to decide which marriages make sense to permit, so we permit (with very minor exceptions) all of them. Most homosexual marriages would probably resemble DINK (double income no kids) marriages; we permit heterosexual DINK marriages, but DINKs are not the reason marriage exists. Marriage exists principally so:a) and b) can be covered with contracts, WHICH I DO SUPPORT. There are instances in which people of the same sex, not necessarily romantically linked, share housing and most their non-working time. Like two elderly women who live together after their husbands died. I support creating a “designated next-of-kin” arrangement, so anyone can choose a special friend who’s not a blood relative to perform that function.The line we cross by calling it a marriage is the equal right to pursue having children. If two gay men approached a fertility clinic and said “we’d like to have a baby.” The doctor would say “One of you can fertilize a donor egg.” The couple says “We want the baby to be the offspring of BOTH of us.”Doctor: That’s impossible.That’s where I’m not going.

  • PSolus

    WmarkW,”That’s where I’m not going.”Wow, that’s really scary; and it totally could happen.Do you have a newsletter that I could subscribe to?I’d also like to make a donation.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    “No secular organization is capable of mounting anything like an organized, church-funded campaign to recruit new voters.” This is the big, big problem. Until secularists recognize once and for all the danger into which religionists are placing democracy, they will continue to oppress us all.When you have the “bishops” and Fundies legislating health care, when you have faith based programs, when you have, on religious grounds, denial of full citizenship to gay Americans, you have an violation of the Establishment Clause.The issue is political. Secularists must organize to get the clerics out of Congress and to eliminate nonprofit status for religious institutions.Whatever it takes….

  • FarnazMansouri2

    “While a minority of atheists are right-wingers in the tradition of Ayn Rand–you can read a few on this thread–the majority of secular voters are humanists, civil libertarians and economic liberals.”Ayn Rand is complicated. Schaum, our great Ayn Rand champion, is a gay atheist secular humanist lefty. (Think civil libertarian and human’s great ability to “transcend.”)

  • castellina

    Well Ms. Jacoby, we religious people love God, love the Bible and will turn out in droves to vote in November. Of course you think we are all brainwashed and do what our churches tell us to do. The truth is that we are fed up with the corruption and immorality shoved down our throat. We are sick and tired of being called bigots and intolerant by people who want to impose their corruption on us. A new era is dawning come November and you and your fellow atheists will not be able to stop it.

  • onofrio

    ThatCatDavid,Thee:The first clause is defensible, if myopic; the second is volcanically risible, and instantly renders null (and entirely comical) all of the subscriber’s subsequent argument. Thee:There are plenty of dinosaurs still around, such as the lumbering Baptosaurus; the Presbyteriodon, with its spiky armour; the stealthily predacious Catholiceratops, and the very ravenous Velociracist. Yes, ThatCatDavid, it is indeed unfortunate that such creatures have still not evolved beyond their cold-blooded peanut-minds and thick skulls, toward something better. Even bird-brains would be a step forward! Thee:Although I’m sure both Tonk and Minge partake of pleasant intercourse of a sort, I have never heard them actually saying nice things to each other. But clearly, you have, and who am I to question your pudendal aurality? I imagine it went something like:

  • spidermean2

    Apostle Paul prophesied that true Christians will inherit and rule the earth.It will happen whether we like it or not and sorry for those who disagree because God has something in store for them.Destruction to the unbelievers. That’s what the Bible says.Doomsday is coming.Openly gays in the military? It could be a sign to Christians in the military to leave before they will be destroyed.

  • PSolus

    thatcatdavid,”First, I reject evolution,…”You go girl; I reject entropy.”…Christine O’Donnell was right.”Yes, she is right; she’s just like you.”Have you every seen an over the hill porn star?”Every time I look in the mirror.”Believe me you don’t want to.”That’s it – this conversation is over.

  • spidermean2

    Science follow a set of rules. Physics, Chemistry, Math, etc have their set of rules. Darwinian Evolution has no rules because it is not science but a science of fools.How did the eye, ear, brain, nose, lungs evolve? These idiots have no answer. Of course, because they have no set of rules. It’s all random stupidity to them. They just say what they want like stupid babblers.

  • onofrio

    Castellina,Thee:That might be your own vatted bile bursting from within. Thee:Or an old error.

  • onofrio

    Spidermean,Thee:Hmm, that’s what the Qur’an says too. Look, if you really must believe in all that extermination, please leave it entirely to God, and don’t be tempted to become his, um, instrument or anything.Why not go for a walk in the park?

  • onofrio

    Spidermean,You’re worshipping your unholy trinity of Fools, Idiots, and Stupid again.Did you learn nothing from yesterday?

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Science is gay.(See Nietzsche.)

  • spidermean2

    “Hmm, that’s what the Qur’an says too.”Wrong. Christians don’t kill to inherit and rule the world. Many false religions have tried that approach but failed. It only destroyed them and will continue to destroy them if they continue such path.This universe is created for the wise to rule and stupidity to self-destruct.True Christianity means being wise and as a result will inherit the earth. False religions means being unwise and follow a path of self-destruction. Clear and simple.

  • spidermean2

    Now I’m not calling anybody as fool. It’s more general. Those who follow a foolish doctrine, I call them fools. Not necessarily pointing to a single person.

  • onofrio

    Nietzsche…now there’s a needed teacher.Fröhliche…

  • onofrio

    SpidermeanThee:They have and do. Fallujah, Abu Ghraib…and it goes waaay back from there, certes.Wake up, monoptic cob…

  • onofrio

    I suppose Afpak drones are not technically “Christians”, but they are stones thrown by the Lamb-lovin’.Never mind the guilt; bombs away!Enter top score…go to prayer group…

  • spidermean2

    Christians don’t burn Bibles. Why did the U.S. military burned the Bibles in Afghanistan? It’s because they are not directed by Christian values.If one calls himself a Christian it doesn’t always mean he is a true Christian. Catholicism is not Christianity. Liberal Protestantism is also not Christianity.

  • onofrio

    Spidermean,Thee:Och aye, laddie. No true Scotsman could gainsay that!

  • msftex

    Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

  • spidermean2

    WW3 is coming and America will be faced with lots of enemies. These enemies have one thing in common. They all hate the Bible.I think many Jews hate the Bible because they don’t believe in Jesus Christ. In a way they become a stumbling block to America. And since America is the only reason Israel exist, hating the Bible by Jews is actually counter productive to their continued existence.

  • onofrio

    Msftex,What’t your point? That GLBT folk are not “made in God’s image”? You trying to set up a two-tier species there, Msftex?

  • onofrio

    Spidermean,Thee:So, they should love “the Bible” to keep their lives?This is all sounding very familiar…I know you think Catholicism is Satan-spawned, but your line of thought here is remarkably similar to that of los Reyes Católicos – you know, the commissioners of Señor Colón… You can take the boy out of Popery, but you can’t take the Pope out of the boy…

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Nietsche explains that God is dead and that we now have “The Gay Science.” (See his book with that title.) Homosexual Science has replaced God, which is why we now have artificial corn.More recent revelations: Another blogger revealed that Glenn Beck’s real name is Glenn Mohammad Beck. He’s a Muslim of German descent. Recent investigations show that he is also a gay transvestite with vacation homes on Fire Island and the gay Riviera. (He dyes his hair.)

  • onofrio

    (guffaws)

  • spidermean2

    Im just saying that it’s a path to self-destruction. Why would you aid in increasing the number of America’s enemies?

  • onofrio

    Spidermean,Thee:Yes, it’s all their own fault…Heard that one round here before TOO.Thee:America is able to increase the number of its enemies all on its little lonesome. If the Tea Party and their right-Bible-lovin’ ilk get seriously somewhere, electorally (as Castellina fulminates below), you’ll see just how lonely and loathsome America can get.And I guess you’ll be delighted.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    I don’t hate the Bible. Actually, I love Song of Solomon. Might be time to repost it.I love goodness, love justice, love lovin’ yer neighbor (dependin’ of course).

  • FarnazMansouri2

    I love our neighbor’s dog, Plautus…?

  • spidermean2

    America is not hated for its conservative values but because of its liberal atheistic appearance. Bin Ladin’s quest to destroy America actually has roots from a Muslim migrant who was very disappointed with America’s liberal and ungodly ways. He wrote a book which bin Ladin embraced.Also it was Bill Clinton who’s the origianl target of Bin Ladin after the Lewisnky scandal.

  • spidermean2

    “I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.” Gen Douglas McArthurPart of America is engaged in self-destruction.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    America can do the right thing. We’ve been in Chile for two months with staff and technology to rescue thirty-two trapped miners.Two up in just the last few hours! GO TEAM!

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Three Chilean miners up–working on the fourth!I love America. Please be good–You can do it! You’re an EXCEPTIONal nation. Yup, you really are.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Fifth miner on the way up! Chilean prez beaming at site. You go, America! Love your neighbor!

  • WmarkW

    SJ: “Throughout the twentieth century, American intellectuals of many generations made the mistake of proclaiming that right-wing fundamentalist religion was on its deathbed.”Yes, disparate birth rates mean that every generation has to learn secularism all over again. Demographic data make clear that the more choices women have about how to spend their lives, the fewer will choose multi-child parenthood.Liberal economic and social policies encourages population growth among non-secular demographics like illegal immigrants and impoverished African-Americans.

  • globalone

    Farnaz,Glad to hear of your love for the Song of Solomon. Great book. If you ever get a chance to attend one of Tommy Nelson’s Song of Solomon conferences, you won’t be disappointed. I’ve never laughed so hard!

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    As a general rule, I think that it would be impossible for a Christian to vote for a Republican.

  • SecularGOP

    I am one of those “Ayn Rand” voters who is both a secularist/freethinker/agnostic etc. and, at least as far as the voter registration is concerned, Republican. In the past I have supported Republican candidates because I believe in their economic policies and I believed those issues to be more pressing. I even supported the TEA party when they were just a group of tax haters.In November I may find myself “voting my values”. I value things like separation of church and state, teaching science in science classes as opposed to mythology, and allowing potentially life saving medical research.As for a secular reason to condemn homosexuality. . . I believe that one exists. The religious right say it is a choice and use that as a basis for condemning it. I say that if it is a choice no civil government can stop someone from making that choice. If however homosexuality is an anomaly in brain chemistry or DNA then it could be considered a disease/mental illness/condition that should be treated/cured. After all, unlike heterosexuality, homosexuality serves no biological purpose.

  • gladerunner

    “After all, unlike heterosexuality, homosexuality serves no biological purpose”Neither does marriage….Or NASCAR, or Reality TV, or Twinkies (the snack cake).

  • WmarkW

    “After all, unlike heterosexuality, homosexuality serves no biological purpose”Neither does marriage….Or NASCAR,I think he was arguing that if homosexuality was genetic, it would have bred out of the population. No one suggests NASCAR is genetic; it’s an outgrowth of low IQ.

  • SecularGOP

    Marriage and NASCAR are choices. I believe we are free to choose these things (though that belief wavers whenever NASCAR is on instead of a show I want to watch).If homosexuality is a choice then I say people are free to choose it. If it is not a choice and if it is like mental retardation, schizophrenia, or other defects don’t we as a society have a responsibility to cure it.and yes since homosexual behavior will not pass along genes it seems unlikely that it would not fade away naturally as have so many genetic variants in the past.Leading one to believe that it is either a choice or a condition.

  • alanr73

    Interesting reading these comments. It reminds me very much how Europe looked, felt and sounded 20/30 years ago.Since then religion is now a dirty word amongst the northern European countries. People who use religion as a stick to beat the ‘morality’ bandwagon are basically treated as fools.It seems the people of the US are becoming more anti-religious. I suspect 30 years from now Atheism/Agnosticism/Humanism will not only be tolerated, but up there amongst the largest Minority ‘religious’ groups.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    SecularGOPThere is only one thing wrong with being gay; that everyone hates you. Otherwise, there is no problem. Get it? Did a light bulb come on in your head, or anything? I hope so, but I doubt it.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    SecularGOPYou want to spend health care dollars to cure gay people of being gay, when there isn’t really anything wrong with them in the first place?Where is all this money going to come from?

  • gladerunner

    Seculargop:Why assume it’s a mental defect? Why can’t it simply be a mental/physical attribute, like left handedness, or musical ability, or patience, or red hair? Your presumption that it is a disease belies your previously stated tolerance. Where’s the evolutionary advantage to being left handed? Should that be ‘cured’? Of course not since, though it may be occasionally awkward as when buying can openers and golf clubs, it really has no deadly downside, so it persists in the gene pool as a rather harmless anomaly.“it seems unlikely that it would not fade away naturally as have so many genetic variants in the past”

  • sux123

    “America is not hated for its conservative values but because of its liberal atheistic appearance.

  • sux123

    Seculargop:

  • Freestinker

    SecularGOP asked: “If it is not a choice and if it is like mental retardation, schizophrenia, or other defects don’t we as a society have a responsibility to cure it.”======SecularGOP,Or if homosexuality is not a choice and if it is like skin color, eye color, and curly hair and all the other genetically determined characteristics don’t we as a society have a responsibility to accept it?

  • Jihadist

    Ehhh…and still Ms. Jacoby can’t get them atheists and secular humanists to get fired up to vote in reminding them of their minority political status as a voting group. They are disparate anyway, politically and economically. So, voting is for the rabid, rigid religious masses – rabid in organising to vote, rigid on social-cultural-economic issues, religious in end of world scenario if “religionists” don’t get their candidates in who are against gays, abortions, evolution etc. Atheists and secular humanists seem to not be into intelligent design on voting and politics – designing, devising tangible and implementable political tactics and strategies apart from tepid non-shock and non-awe signs on God and religion on side of buses and by highways. Both atheistic/secular and religious gays are better organised socially and politically than majoritarian atheists and secular humanists in, umm, sexual inclinations and/or preferences. The “religionists” help in voter registration, in providing transport during election day. Hope they serve up tea, sandwiches and cakes for those who have already voted and while waiting for election results and after the results are out. There should be an organised effort to send barrels of cheese and crates of wine to those too smart to vote and too minority to win elections as a group. Perhaps to send six packs after six packs of beers and packets and packet of potato chips to rub it in. It would seem discussing voting as a right is better than than the act of voting. On election day, I intend to come by here to see which Americans are around blogging instead of going to vote and following the elections.

  • Freestinker

    RBPCBP asked: “What I find intriguing is the fear (so called) atheists have of God and any group that believe in God. If God does not exist as they claim, what are they afraid of?”========We’re afraid of Nothing! *wink*

  • SecularGOP

    I see your point about equating to left handedness or eye color rather than mental illness.I would also stipulate that I would never force a “cure” onto anyone but I cannot help but think that many people would choose the easier life that would come with not having the genetic variable. I imagine if I were left handed I would either A) want to be right handed since things are easier that way or B) would want at least 50% of the population to be left handed so that group would be catered to.If the hardships homosexuals face are real, and we can all agree that they are, why not offer them the option of not having to endure those hardships. I suppose I would liken it to deafness. Deaf people endure hardships so implants were invented to treat the condition but we do not force that treatment on anyone who does not want it.

  • Freestinker

    “If the hardships homosexuals face are real, and we can all agree that they are, why not offer them the option of not having to endure those hardships.”==============That’s what the fight for equal civil rights for gays is all about. Their hardships are caused by an unfair society, not homosexuality. So I agree we should offer them the option of not having to endure senseless discrimination.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Continued:Unfortunately, early and medieval christian influence on Jews along with other more disgusting historical facts too numerous to go into here led many into the hateful path of rejecting homosexuality, confusing the Tanakh, taking the Christian literalist (and idiotic) reading on some points. This is entirely nonJudaic as many Conservative and Reform Jews have pointed out to their erring brothers, since Judaism is interpretative (non)foundationally. The Bible (Tanakh)is, in fact, internally foundational.On these grounds, some headway is being made with some Orthodox Jews on the issue of homosexuality.As an atheist, I value knowledge and accuracy. Kindly consider the value of the foregoing the next time you post.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Sorry for the preceding post: It was meant for Tom Flynn’s thread. That would be Tom Flynn, executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism and editor of its magazine Free Inquiry.It is ironic, though, in light of Susan’s essay last week commenting on the expected Pew finding that atheists are more knowledgeable than believers on the subject of religion. Tom Flynn fits in with that large mass of cultural and believing Christians who know NADA about Judaism but feel supremely entitled to “opine” on said religion. What (entirely predictable) arrogance and ignorance.It appears that some prominent atheists are no more literate or intelligent than the least literate and intelligent of the faithful.

  • gladerunner

    Seculargop:

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Gladerunner:I second the notion that this is not a medical/metal defect, but a societal problem. One could make the argument that if African-Americans have to endure hardships for being black, why not work on a cure for blackness?I can only hope that this current Court can.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    I recommend that from now on, whenever we hold our fists up to heaven bemoaning the moral darkness of our great nation, we think of the Chilean miners.In fact, Americans and Europeans participated in this effort, but this nation has yet to credit itself with its contributions. That combination of modesty and helpfulness is as American as some of our more distressing faults. A NASA team helped design the escape capsule, while U.S. companies manufactured parts of the rescue drill, operated by an American engineer who flew in from Afghanistan. A team from Center Rock Inc. of Berlin, Pa. built and managed the piston-driven hammers that pounded open the hole. And there were other Americans involved.For the first seventeen days, no one even knew if the miners were alive, yet Chile persisted. They were underground for sixty-nine days, the longest anyone has ever survived in such conditions, and the whole world was with them the entire time.When Jews drink wine during ceremonies they toast with the phrase, La Chaim! To Life!To Life!

  • WmarkW

    Ehhh…and still Ms. Jacoby can’t get them atheists and secular humanists to get fired up to vote in reminding them of their minority political status as a voting group. They are disparate anyway, politically and economically.I suspect atheists and secular humanists will be turning out in large numbers on Nov 2, being generally intelligent and informed.The non-voters will be the other tangentially-involved liberals, who don’t understand why society isn’t being “transformed” in any useful way.

  • WmarkW

    In fact, Americans and Europeans participated in this effort, but this nation has yet to credit itself with its contributions. Yes, Chile is an advanced, sophisticated country.Remember they had an earthquake at the same time Haiti did, and cleaned up and kept going.

  • Robert_B1

    Gee, and here I thought it was because the majority of Americans believe in some sort of God and are sick of the oh-so-rational atheists calling them superstitious and stupid…

  • learninglots

    I seem to remember a certain “non-partisan” group that just a few years ago worked very diligently to get out the vote. Let’s see, what were they called….Oh, yeah. ACORN. And I seem to recall a comment or two about them being primarily Democratic. But those darned right-wing conservatives just have no right participating in a similar practice?And on a related note: more and more I see the liberals having absolutely nothing nice to say about the conservatives, and vice versa. The whole country seems to be experiencing a bizarre and somewhat irrational fear. “Don’t vote for that guy! (Or political party) He/They will destroy us all!” It’s really getting old.

  • WmarkW

    I just posted the following on the Main Page, where they’re discussing God and Gays. I’ll repeat it here, but it is NOT directed at Susan or any commenter here:Where are the Muslim panelists? (Pam Taylor wouldn’t count; she’s a modern feminist who’s adopted a kind of New Age Islam)For that matter, where are the Hispanics or blacks?This is what bothers me about “diversity”: it’s never directed at getting minority communities to accept each other. It’s only about how whites are supposed to be more accepting of every other idea under the sun.So far only Jay Sekolow has mentioned Islam at all, approving its condemnatory attitude.Why isn’t anyone saying anything like “African-Americans need to accept gays as another oppressed minority” or “Hispanic machismo shouldn’t practice hate” or “Islam needs to updates its attitudes.”In the panelists’ minds, only whites ever need to practice greater “tolerance,”

  • WmarkW

    Is Amarnath Amarasingam African-American?From his name, I inferred he was Indian or similar.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Mark,Btw., did you know that the class act Paladino fathered a child “out of wedlock,” as it were?Have you read about the lady and the horse emailing?

  • Secular

    I suspect atheists and secular humanists will be turning out in large numbers on Nov 2, being generally intelligent and informed.The non-voters will be the other tangentially-involved liberals, who don’t understand why society isn’t being “transformed” in any useful way.Posted by: WmarkW This secular atheist, the last remaining Yellow Dog Democrat will be pulling the lever for the straight down Democratic ticket. After that gutsy-motor-bike-riding-mama Ann Richards, we will hopefully be having a Democratic governor Bill White.

  • spidermean2

    alanr73 wrote “Interesting reading these comments. It reminds me very much how Europe looked, felt and sounded 20/30 years ago.Since then religion is now a dirty word amongst the northern European countries. People who use religion as a stick to beat the ‘morality’ bandwagon are basically treated as fools. It seems the people of the US are becoming more anti-religious. I suspect 30 years from now Atheism/Agnosticism/Humanism will not only be tolerated, but up there amongst the largest Minority ‘religious’ groups. “———–Very wrong. Less than 20 years from now, Europe and the liberal atheistic part of America will be a pile of dust. Add to that a few more countries who hate the Bible.When the Bible said it, it’s going to happen.

  • spidermean2

    After such an event, Im not sure if a Democratic party would still be relevant at all.

  • Jihadist

    Yes, Chile is an advanced, sophisticated country.Remember they had an earthquake at the same time Haiti did, and cleaned up and kept going.*******************************************- Chile is an OECD member country. Haiti is among the poorest nation in the Americas, if not the world. – The earthquake epicentre in Chile was not in a heavy populated area or near its capital city, but the one in Haiti was. – Chile is the Singapore of Latin America…efficient, businesslike and gets things done fast and reliably. – Not rich or poor country but how the consequences of natural disasters are handled. The impact of Katrina was not well handled politically and logistically in New Orleans.

  • Jihadist

    The non-voters will be the other tangentially-involved liberals, who don’t understand why society isn’t being “transformed” in any useful way. *******************************************The non-voters could also be members of ethnic and religious minorities who are dismayed by and despaired of both extremists rightists and leftists who are into “transforming” America either into a full fledge Christian-capitalist state, or socialististic-secular state. What the mainline, mainstream, centrist sorts on politics, economics, social issues think, one don’t quite know, and will have the most impact during elections. For they are also a group with their own despairs on the state of America as a nation and people.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    On gay rights and diversity:African Americans: A tiny minority of African American clergy support gay rights. Susan Smith is among them, but there are others, and their voices should be heard on this blog.The only prominent Muslim American I’m aware of who has spoken out loud and clear on behalf of gay rights is Pamela Taylor. If there are others sharing her position, we need to hear from them.I know of know Hindus in the public domain who have spoken out in support of gay rights.The issue is largely problematic in the Latino community as well, whether Catholic or Pentecostal.The horror of Haiti and our support of the worst dictatorial animals in the world is an old story. It may be the world’s poorest nation.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    As for the MOrmons and gay rights, what can one say. There does seem to be small glimmers of hope, but that is about it. The same with some Orthodox Jews; they perceive but through a glass darkly.Fortunately we (don’t) separate Church and state. Fortunately we have the Supreme Court(?).

  • FarnazMansouri2

    A fourteen-year-old gay was beaten, kicked, stomped on a school bus today in Long Island.A hate crime is a hate crime. Indite them as adults and put ‘em away.

  • spidermean2

    Homosexuality is a disease just like pedophilia and adultery are. The problem begins when people want to legalize these diseases.Nothing wrong with gays joining the military. The problem begins when they want to spread the disease in the military. Imagine a general embracing or kissing his boyfriend in front of the troops.Yuck.

  • WmarkW

    A fourteen-year-old gay was beaten, kicked, stomped on a school bus today in Long Island.Article says the youths attended a vocational school in Hicksville.I suspect their parents don’t take the LIRR to Wall Street each morning.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Mark,Article says the youths attended a vocational school in Hicksville.I suspect their parents don’t take the LIRR to Wall Street each morning.

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