Obama is pandering to religion

The Spirited Atheist, like a great many secularists at this political juncture, is feeling somewhat dispirited. President Obama’s “how-I-came-to-know-Jesus” speech … Continued

The Spirited Atheist, like a great many secularists at this political juncture, is feeling somewhat dispirited. President Obama’s “how-I-came-to-know-Jesus” speech at that sanctimonious annual ritual known as the National Prayer Breakfast might as well have been titled, “How I plan to be a two-term president by convincing loonies I am not a Muslim or atheist.” We’re not hearing much about Obama’s respect for people of no faith these days and the president’s very public embrace of his faith is only one byproduct of the larger resurgence, in the nation’s capital and many states, of those who want religious belief to determine public policy.

Obama’s speech was dismaying but hardly surprising for anyone who read his autobiographical Dreams from My Father. Anyone who ever thought Obama was a secret atheist–a view expressed in comments on this blog on numerous occasions–is as deluded as the birthers who think Obama was sent here by Muslim conspirators to establish sharia in the United States. The theme of Obama’s youth, as expressed in his book and his recent speech, was his struggle with and ultimate acceptance of his identity as a black American. His embrace of Christianity–a key component of African-American identity in the United States–was part of that process. What is dismaying is Obama’s conclusion that in order to remain president, he must parade his religion even more obviously than George W. Bush did.

One of the saddest parts of Obama’s speech was his reference to his mother, who, in his words, “grew up with a certain skepticism about organized religion.” Obama felt obliged to justify his mother’s indifference to religion by indicating that she was “one of the most spiritual people I ever knew…somebody who was instinctively guided by the Golden Rule… .” It is indeed a bad day for secularism when a president feels obliged to tell his audience that even though his mother didn’t take him to church, she was still a good person.

In a political sense, the most nausea-inducing portion of Obama’s speech was his embrace of Oklahoma’s arch-conservative Sen. Tom Coburn (R) as “a brother in Christ.” The president said, “Even though we are on opposite sides of a whole bunch of issues, part of what has bound us together is a shared faith, a recognition that we pray to and serve the same God. And I keep praying that God will show him the light and he will vote with me once in a while.” This remark got a big laugh from the good old boys and gals at the prayer breakfast but Coburn and his views are nothing to laugh about.

The godly Coburn, an obstetrician before he became a politician, is the same Tom Coburn who, in his senatorial campaign in 2004, declared that he supported the death penalty for doctors who perform abortions and “other people who take life.” If I were the president, I’d be careful about claiming anyone like this as a “brother in Christ.” Obama needs Coburn as a brother like Abel needed Cain.

And speaking of abortion, one of the major developments–in Congress and in states where Republicans took over legislatures–is a renewed push to make it as difficult as possible for any woman to get an abortion for any reason. In Nebraska, a law enacted last year would ban all abortions at 20 weeks after conception–allowing no exceptions for severe fetal abnormalities, such as the absence of a brain, that were not detected at earlier stages. Many other states have similar laws under consideration.

In Washington, the “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act” is designed to discourage insurance companies from covering abortion at all. Under the proposed law, introduced by New Jersey Republican Christopher Smith, people with tax-preferred medical savings accounts could not even use their own money to pay for an abortion without losing the tax break. The original language of this law would have narrowed exemptions for rape and incest by limiting any federal funding to oxymoronic cases of “forcible rape.” The provision was dropped after strong protests from women–including some Republican women. In a scathing episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, correspondent Kirsten Schaal distinguished between rape and assaults that are only “rapeish and “rape-esque.”

“By proposing this legislation,” Schaal said, “Republicans are finally closing the glaring rape loophole in our health care system. You’d be surprised how many drugged, underaged, or mentally handicapped young women have been gaming the system. Sorry, ladies, the free abortion ride is over.”

The newly emboldened religious right is also taking on state constitutional provisions that bar organized prayer in schools. On Feb. 1, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a measure that would amend the Virginia constitution so that “the people’s right to pray and to recognize their religious beliefs, heritage and traditions on public property, including public schools, shall not be infringed.” This is particularly Ironic, because Virginia led the way–and provided a template for the federal constitution–by passing a law in 1786 that banned taxation for religious instruction in public schools, The Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom, originally written by Thomas Jefferson and supported by a coalition of Baptists and freethinkers, became the first state law to definitively establish separation between religion and government institutions.

Jacques Berlinerblau, in a commentary on Obama’s speech on On Faith last week, wrote, “The golden age of secularism has passed. The secular movement–if there ever was such a movement in this country–must look at events such as the NPB as an invitation to think secularism afresh….” I don’t know what Berlinblau means by a golden age of secularism. He mentions the 1960s, but the social protest movements of that decade, especially the antiwar movement and the civil rights movement, were as strongly influenced by the religious left as by secularism. Furthermore, the institutions that would turn the religious right into a powerful political force were also organized in the 60s and were largely unknown to and ignored by the national media, which focused on social protest on the left. The kindergarten-through-college network of fundamentalist Christian schools, originally organized as a white southern response to school desegregation, morphed into a response to the pro-secular decisions of the Supreme Court of that era.

John F. Kennedy took a much more secular tone as president than anyone has since the 1970s, but he was able to do so because the chief obstacle to his presidential campaign had been a perception that a Catholic president might take orders from the Vatican. The less tied to his faith Kennedy appeared, the better off he was with Protestant voters. Obama, of course, has precisely the opposite problem, in that he has been demonized by the right both as a “secret Muslim” and as an atheist. There may never have been a golden age of secularism but until Jimmy Carter, presidents did not open their souls to public scrutiny. And their were no national prayer breakfasts presided over by the founding fathers.

That Obama is pandering to religion, and that there is a resurgence of right-wing religious power in the South and the Midwest, does not mean that secularists (who are still the fastest-growing segment of the younger American population) need to think their moral values “afresh.” What secularists lack, and have always lacked, is the kind of political organization that wields any real power. That is the major task facing American secularists today and only one thing is clear: we are wasting our time with internecine quarrels between those who prefer to call themselves “skeptics” and those who answer only to the name “secular humanists,” between so-called hard and soft atheists. We all have much more in common with one another than Obama does with Coburn, but you’d never know it from the disunited front we present. And as long as skeptics are taking swipes at humanists and atheists are calling one another out for being insufficiently caustic (or too caustic) about religion, we will never be able to mount an effective challenge to “sacred,” historically recent “traditions” like this inane prayer breakfast–or to the damaging proposals that various “brothers in Christ” are formulating to make their religious views the law of the land.

Susan Jacoby
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  • davivman

    I guess it is too hard just to take President at his word. The accusation of “pandering to religion” is as baseless as the accusation of being a “secret Muslim”. The president has been publicly practicing Christianity since well before he ever decided to run for public office. That’s not pandering, that’s just practicing what he believes.

  • persiflage

    ‘It is my opinion that the fact these two demographics (blacks and white Southerners) have come to define the two ends of the political spectrum, is a major reason science has become de-emphasized in our society at large. Whenever someone wants to do research, it’s limited by the interests of those groups.’So then, if there are genetically based racial inequities between blacks and whites that are masked by liberal ideology, can we assume that the same genetically based inequities exist between white Southerners and Northerners? Is this why religion gets in the way of everything down South, while Northerners, et al, are somehow free of these tendencies? But of course not. The implied presumption here is that Southern CULTURE is the main problem for whites, while GENETICS is the problem for blacks. I have no idea what Mr. Derbyshire’s qualifications are for rendering the opinions he seems to hold dear, but I would posit that mainland China is in fact quite an homogonous culture historically – the whole idea (and fact) of multi-culturalism and it’s inherent conflicts is probably all but missing, compared to the cultural/sub-cultural blending that has always been a part of America’s polyglot history. Self-identity and learned values control behavior to a far greater degree than IQ and it’s minor variability. The fact that Muslims refuse to readily assimilate in adopted Western cultures has nothing to do with intelligence and everything to do with learned behavior. The same is of course true for Hispanics and African Americans in the USA. To the extent that both minorities are raised and abide in the same relative cultural and socio-economic strata as fellow Caucasians, they will tend to identify to a much greater degree with people of like accomplishments and common background – regardless of race or ethnicity – in the same way that well-off politicians (of any ethnic or racial makeup) rarely live in same neighborhoods as their much less affluent constituents. However, minority politicians almost invariably understand the point of view held by those materially less fortunate constituents.

  • WmarkW

    This column has gotten less commenting action than I’d expected, so let me pick up on one of my favorite topics: how we need to develop an urban/suburban brand of secular conservatism. This article is by Heather MacDonald, also a contributor to SecularRight.org, a columnist at City Journal, a conservative urban publication. It only takes a couple of minutes to read this short article taken from a longer speech: How Conservatives Saved MetropolisIf you’d visited NYC before 1990 and again today, you can see the difference. Times Square is no longer the home of pornhouses, pimps and panhandlers, but is a bustling commercial environment worthy of the world’s best theater district. The subway is no longer littered with bums.As MacDonald’s article points out, NYC rejected the usual liberal platitudes that poverty was rooted in things like racism, that crime as an inevitable result of that poverty, that children didn’t need fathers, and welfare was better than low-wage work. Instead, NYC sent criminals to jail, moved the businesses that attract criminals out of the tourist district, and moved parents from welfare to work.As a result, major felonies are down 80% and NYC has the lowest child poverty rate of any of national eight largest cities. Ten thousand minority males are alive today that would have been murdered had the 1990 rate kept up 20 more years.

  • bobinhouston

    “Faith means nothing if you don’t attend to it.”His faith has to be measured by a show that meets your approval? How arrogant.

  • persiflage

    ‘Faith means nothing if you don’t attend to it.’Faith declarations of the religious kind have no place in a public forum – particularly when the speaker is the POTUS.These statements are inherently prejudicial to those that aren’t practitioners of the particular religion that is being tacitly supported or alluded to in these Presidential statements.Presidents have a sworn duty NOT to make statements supporting a particular religious faith. Obama has violated that particular principle of neutrality that is implied in the founding ethos of our secular government. Even alluding to a ‘univeral spirit’ is too much……Why Constitutional law experts like Obama feel compelled to violate this principle for the sake of stroking public approval demonstrates a certain weakness of character, as far as I’m concerned.Even so, religiously loaded statements will be a matter of course when the 2012 electoral struggles begin. This is both disquieting and objectionable on any number of levels. America will continue to fall behind in the rankings of global educational achievement AND healthcare as long as religion is a central political preoccupation and pivotal focal point in the USA. All in all, religion contributes nothing positive to the overall quality of life in the modern era, while at the same time building obstructions and barriers to that same overall goal.

  • nogod

    One day, an atheist US President will arrive.

  • YEAL9

    There are always economics built into one’s beliefs. For example, is Susan Jacoby an atheist because there is money to be made from books, speeches and columns on the subject? Unless she and others in the business of making good income from books, etc. on religion, secularism, or atheism take a vow of poverty, we will never know.Some examples: from guidestar.org

  • Counterww

    Persiflage says “All in all, religion contributes nothing positive to the overall quality of life in the modern era, while at the same time building obstructions and barriers to that same overall goal.Well I think George Washington disagrees with you among just about all the presidents who expounded on their faith , most of them. How would you know ANYTHING about God contributing to people’s positive contribution to politics and society, when you can’t fathom that contribution due to your own spiritual IQ being in the negative range?Washington said :”Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?”I note that people like you and Susan just cannot fathom the FACT that our country is dominated to this day by people who have Christian mind think at the forefront of the way they go about their lives. It really bothers you all very much but you think it would be something that you would be used to.Basically, to boil it down , you and her are full of crap.

  • ThishowIseeit

    Secular have not done a good job enough in making people aware that all deities have been invented by humans and that plate tectonic proves that there is no just deity. Time is wasted by talking about religions when we should be talking about all the tangible undeniable facts that disprove the existence of any just deity.

  • onofrio

    Pander-monium

  • mrbradwii

    oops: “comes along for the right” should read “comes along for the ride”

  • persiflage

    ‘For example, is Susan Jacoby an atheist because there is money to be made from books, speeches and columns on the subject?’Agnostics aside, it seems obvious that by definition, anyone who’s not a theist is an atheist. While this seldom has anything to do with one’s livelihood, some folks are clever enough or talented enough to make money on either side of the religous divide.All praise the holy spirit of free enterprise!

  • areyousaying

    Obama will never win with racist teabaggers who still can’t accept the reality he was elected President.When he doesn’t talk about faith, they wailed. When he talks about it, they wail.Americans need to wake up, admit that along with being a “Christian Nation” the US is a racist nation that can’t function with a person of color in the White House.

  • WmarkW

    Americans need to wake up, admit that along with being a “Christian Nation” the US is a racist nation that can’t function with a person of color in the White House.At the risk of sounding like a broken record — a lot of this issue wouldn’t be on the table if Obama had a 20-year history like other presidential candidates out of the Senate have had (McCain, Kerry, Gore, Dole). Obama talks about faith for the same reason Jimmy Carter did — they had little record, ran on being a new type of leader, and use religion to reassure voters that he’s “one of them,” in a way their history of vote-taking does not.

  • whyyesbrain

    “Faith declarations of the religious kind have no place in a public forum – particularly when the speaker is the POTUS.”Much as I find it a bit disconcerting, I do have to disagree. Just because he is President does not preempt him from making declarations of his faith in any public forum he care to. I would draw the line at prosthelytizing and trying to use the office to write his religion’s dogma into federal law or federal policy.

  • Sara121

    The problem is that when politicians speak openly about how their faith guides them – and it is certainly their right to express that as Americans – it can lead to serious skepticism among those of other faiths, to include no faith, that their First Amendment rights will also be respected and protected.I think that means that politicians should be explicit about their commitment to religious pluralism and protecting the First Amendment rights of those of other (and all – or no) faiths. When policy makers and legislators use their faith as a guide to making and enforcing laws, they have actively trampled on the First Amendment rights of those of other faiths.

  • Ed–words

    Didn’t Susan Jacoby herself, in a recent “On Faith” op-ed, Let’s all support SCOA in its

  • EarthCraft

    Well,Religion/monarchy’s fail without a Secularist State/Principles in place.The secularists principles actually provide the stability necessary to allow religions to function. Spiritual “intoxication” leads to corruption and abuses of power, unless checks and balances are placed. And, in some very “rare cases” vice versa when Spirituality is absent having given way to the same in principle. However the latter is an unusual exception based on a complete breakdown in the matter of leadership. At the street level, it’s an illusion that either prevail. Witchcraft and or paranormal activity are the norms.The question,is there choice?

  • ThomasBaum

    persiflage You wrote, “Presidents have a sworn duty NOT to make statements supporting a particular religious faith.”Are you saying that when one becomes President that the rights afforded to the rest of the citizens of the USA do not apply to the President?You then wrote, “Obama has violated that particular principle of neutrality that is implied in the founding ethos of our secular government. Even alluding to a ‘univeral spirit’ is too much……”I repeat, does one cease being a citizen of the USA when one becomes President?First you said “a sworn duty NOT to” then you said “that is implied”, which is it?You then wrote, “Why Constitutional law experts like Obama feel compelled to violate this principle for the sake of stroking public approval demonstrates a certain weakness of character, as far as I’m concerned.”This is your opinion but isn’t the President exercising his rights as an American citizen?Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • edbyronadams

    “Faith means nothing if you don’t attend to it.”His faith has to be measured by a show that meets your approval? How arrogant.POSTED BY: BOBINHOUSTONI stand corrected. Words do mean something. It’s just when words are not matched by actions, it undercuts the words. President Obama’s faith seems to be one of convenience rather than conviction.

  • ThomasBaum

    persiflage You wrote, “It’s what people do – but all this social activity taking places in all the countless churches from coast to coast actually contributes very little to the well-being of people that reside outside those church groups. But it does keep them busy and out of trouble… and that’s a good thing. If you and your church group are engaged in frequent charitable activities, then you may be the exception. In that case, blessings upon you!”You just might be surprized to find out that it is more the rule than the exception, because a lot of it goes on without fanfare.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • ThomasBaum

    ThishowIseeitYou wrote, “Don’t tell people something, PROVE something!”You need not worry, God will “prove” that God Is in due time, God’s Time.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • persiflage

    ‘You just might be surprized to find out that it is more the rule than the exception, because a lot of it goes on without fanfare.’That’s all to the good – the more religious organizations practice charity (especially if it’s free of proselytizing) the more justification there may be for across the board tax exemptions that they currently enjoy. ‘This is your opinion but isn’t the President exercising his rights as an American citizen?’Yes, it’s my opinion that public faith declarations are in bad taste for Presidents – but are not against the law. Currying favor with one group is bound to alienate another – but religious voters do happen to comprise a vast population of voters, so prayer breakfasts, faith declarations, etc. are simply of matter of pandering to the majority. And how can that be a bad thing? Is that what you’re saying? The fact is, the President is not like you or me, and needs to consider what he says long and hard – before he says it. He doesn’t necessarily have the luxury of spontaneous public comment at all times and places. ALL the people means ALL the people – no exceptions. The fact that I object to public displays of religion from the Whitehouse is the same reason I object to the concealed weapons/gun mania sweeping the country. It’s all legal, but not necessarily a good idea. And BTW, the prohibition against assault weapons has expired, and it’s renewal has not been raised as a legislative issue by the Whitehouse. So far the WH is silent on the subject. So why the silence on the assault weapons ban on the one hand, and the public declarations of faith on the other? One word – politics.

  • eezmamata

    Either Obama is dumb enough to actually believe this religious crap, or he’s dumb enough to believe that other people believe … he’s dumb enough to believe it.Either way, Obama enters the “dumb” column with far more people now than he once did.I’m sure glad I didn’t vote for the guy, what a disappointment he must be for people who really did think he was something different.

  • Rongoklunk

    I too am disappointed with Obama. I always felt he was far too intelligent to believe in ancient myths, especially when his folks were nonbelievers. I agree it looks like he realizes that the only way to get another term is to join the loonies and fake religious belief. It seems that in America today that if you don’t believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and at least one god – you’re going nowhere fast.My guess is that there could be a lot of closet atheists in the US, but coming out may cost them their popularity and even their livelyhoods. Rationality in America has been out of fashion eversince Tom Paine. How tragic. Only Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries are as religious – which ought to tell us something.

  • Rongoklunk

    eezmamata “Either Obama is dumb enough to actually believe this religious crap, or he’s dumb enough to believe that other people believe … he’s dumb enough to believe it.”You don’t have to be dumb to be religious, though it does help. What seems essential is childhood indoctrination in some way – to grow up where everyone is a believer. Even the brightest of us find it hard to escape from our early cultural environment, and what it teaches us to believe – as we easily acquire our language and local accent as children and are usually stuck with it for life.You and I would have been believers in the days of Christendom where everyone believed, where one could be burnt alive for NOT believing. Even Dawkins would have been a believer had he lived in those days.So being dumb is not a prerequisite. The early environment is all.

  • WmarkW

    SJ:”We all have much more in common with one another than Obama does with Coburn, but you’d never know it from the disunited front we present.”OK, I’m willing to not vote for Obama in 2012 to protest his selling out to the religious-industrial complex.Who’s with me?

  • WmarkW

    “In 2012,that would have to be Obama,I intend to vote for the architect of the Massachusetts health care plan, whether or not he believes in “Christianity, plus some very stupid ideas” to quote Sam Harris.As Susan pointed out last Autumn:Dissecting presidential theology not an American tradition

  • Counterww

    So Persiflage- do you really read Washington’s quote, or do you just talk yourself out of the what he said about the positive nature of religion and morality leading to political prosperity?Pretty typical.You also seem imply that social nature of church life precludes those same people from helping others. Actually, it helps them do so, as it is emphasized to help others THROUGH that same socialization.You better get used to it. Christians vote, and they vote in larger blocs than atheists and the “elite” thinkers like you.The separation clause was never meant to be as high as people like you claim. That is why Moses and the ten commandments are displayed on the front of the supreme court, building, inside the wooden doors , and on the wall inside the courtroom behind where the judges sit. THe first Bible printed by the US congress was printed in 1782 for “for the use of our schools” . Four large paintings displayed in the rotunda of the capital were commissioned by Congress in 1830 for the purpose of documenting the Christian history of the United States. . Jefferson who many of you quote – attended worship services there and provided Federal funds to evangelize Indians in 1803 .I am convinced the founders would be aghast about this artificial high wall that courts have built . Yes, many were Deists, but they did not demonize those that had deeper beliefs in the Christian doctrines that are the foundations of Christianity, and they did not intend for the wall ,again to be as high as it has been built.Good luck, persiflage, get used to it. The Christians are not going away, at least not yet.

  • persiflage

    ‘Good luck, persiflage, get used to it. The Christians are not going away, at least not yet.’Your primary problem here is a complete lack of empathy for the non-theist position in the USA – and no apparent appreciation for the fact that the world and the human knowledge base has changed dramatically in 250 years. Living in South Carolina as I do, I realize these changes are not acknowledged by everyone – by a long shot. Talk about surrounded by christians!! With a state dominated by rightwing republicans preaching the politics of a Baptist fundamentalist, what’s a good old fashioned secularist to do? It’s been duly noted that white democrats in the South have become an increasingly rare phenomenon – instead, we’ve got god-smacked republicans in droves. The black minority is equally steeped in religion, but have limited control over political outcomes. I vote in national elections only. But all that aside, the Founders were steeped in the thinking of the Enlightenment, which in itself was a giant step away from the superstitions of organized religion – and many believed that the Creator was remote to human destiny….they were of course not trinitarians (think Unitarian, Deist, et al). A belief in some kind of Creator was more or less universal, but was really an earlier rendition of Einstein’s God – Mother Nature herself. A hundred years later, Emerson and Thoreau incorporated Eastern thought in the Transcendentalist movement.’I am convinced the founders would be aghast about this artificial high wall that courts have built.’I think the Founders would be aghast that there’s virtually no wall at all……and that the USA appears to be in a kind of retrograde motion with regard to the evolution of human thought.

  • WmarkW

    I suspect the founders would be aghast at how much the voting franchise has been extended to people more likely to believe in religion than they were. They imagined a government run by educated white male property owners, who are, on average, more secular than everyone else.The above is intended as descriptive, not advocative.

  • persiflage

    ‘They imagined a government run by educated white male property owners, who are, on average, more secular than everyone else.’What’s changed?? The re-distribution/transfer of wealth to this small segment of society continues apace….

  • WmarkW

    “What’s changed?? The re-distribution/transfer of wealth to this small segment of society continues apace….”What changed is that various demographics started wanting government to help them as members of their demographic. The New Deal helped blacks because it helped all poor people, a disproportionate number of whom were black. When the issue became results-based Affirmative Action and then Diversity, we ended up with the current political lineup in which the Republicans are made up of white males and their wives and the Democrats, minorities and unmarried women.The Republican party wouldn’t be nearly so strong today if African-Americans’, Hispanics’, and women’s political priorities weren’t so specific to themselves.

  • slowe111

    BRAVO Susan. You are spot on again.

  • detroitblkmale30

    Good for Obama.I’m so tired of the false premise that intelligence and faith are mutually exclusive and that when taken in combination with enlightenment one must automatically arrive one at the place of atheism.

  • armandduncan83

    Susan, if you volunteer to run for Congress, I promise I will personally campaign for you and give you my vote.

  • CHAOTICIAN101

    Yep, Barry is sure a disappointment! At least with Bush, you knew you were getting screwed, the country was being destroyed, and cronism was the norm; with Barry we had higher hopes but it turns our they were in vain! I’m done with voting for the lesser of two evils; now I’ll vote for what I want knowing it makes no difference at all! And I’ll be glad to meet you on the Mall to deal with our corruption and military supporters of that corruption; like Mubarak, our leaders have lost touch with the people and imagine what they want is best!

  • lufrank1

    Unfortunately, a candidate intelligent enough to understand that ALL religions are simply MAN made speculations . . . . Wouldn’t have a Hope in you know where to win the Presidency!

  • DESI6N

    A president that thinks he has the supernatural power of mental telepathy and by thinking extra hard they can transmit secret messages to an invisible, omniscient creature living outside space and time in another dimension and get that creature to alter the universe based on his whims and wishes?It’s such an ego driven arrogant delusion.I’m ashamed our president admits to this.

  • wireman65

    The same schools that teach evolution and science?………Really??? Evolution and science are in direct opposition to Christianity?? And since when did religious equate to Christianity?? Wow.

  • detroitblkmale30

    A president that thinks he has the supernatural power of mental telepathy and by thinking extra hard they can transmit secret messages to an invisible, omniscient creature living outside space and time in another dimension and get that creature to alter the universe based on his whims and wishes?

  • Rongoklunk

    globaloneI’m saying that children get their beliefs from their parents, assisted generally by the local culture. My evidence is that Mormon adults raise Mormon children,I raised several children without mention of a god, and naturally never took them to any church. Today they are all well adjusted and successful adults who have no belief in anything supernatural. Without being ‘taught’ about god – by one’s cultural environment – nobody would believe such a fantasy for a moment. Do you, for instance, believe in Rama? Millions do. Well, I feel the same way about your god.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Counterww and Wmarkw,I always getyou two guys confused; maybe it is because of all the W’s that so mysteriously appear in your names. But now you are both here, at the same time, easily distinguishable.Counterww, I get a little tired of people like you, assuming that the Founding Fathers were fundamentlaist Christians; they were not. It is pure invention, and you are engaging in silly fantasies to suppose that they were. Why can’t you accept their accomplishements as they were? Why do you insist on artifically forcing your personal belief system on them? If they did not believe in what you believe in, then they were no good? Is that your problem?On to the subject of Obama’s religion, I infer that Barak and Michelle have a complex and subtle belief system, that is far afield from the beliefs of simple-minded, dogmatic Christian fundamentalists. Yet, having some similiar beliefs, I know how fruitless it is, to explain oneself even to an audience of one or two, with any hope of their comprehension. Why even try, if you are President, to say what you really believe, if it is a forgone conclusion that people will mischaracterize your beliefs and use them against you?The President and his family went to church for 20 years, and they got beat up good over it, because it was the wrong church. They got beat up so bad, that he was almost defeated in his run for President. He is a smart guy; he doesn’t have to go through that again. He can’t go to church. There is no church that he can attend without being brutally attacked by one group or another. He simply cannot. Everyone in America has freedom of religion, but not him.Does he want to make this into a big deal? Apparently not. He is going along, with many of the expectations of Presidential behavior. I do not think that he is deliberately posing as a believer of things that he does not really believe; he is going along with what is expected, so that he can get through these moments of expectation, and on to other things.

  • Rongoklunk

    eezmamata As a dad I remember answering my daughter one time when she asked me if there was a god. I said “Well, some people think there is a god, and other people don’t”. “But what do you think dad?” “Well I’ve never seen one, and nobody else has ever seen one either, so no, I don’t believe there are any, but you never know.”As a child she asked if she could go to a particular church – where a friend of hers attended. I said “Of course you can”, and drove her there two or three times. But it passed. My boys never showed even that much interest. I must admit, however, that if any of them had taken a liking to it, I would have felt obliged as a parent to talk some sense into them, and tell them how I really felt. The world does not need more religion, as 9/11 taught us, it needs less.

  • Counterww

    DILD – you said “Counterww, I get a little tired of people like you, assuming that the Founding Fathers were fundamentlaist Christians; they were not. It is pure invention, and you are engaging in silly fantasies to suppose that they were. Why can’t you accept their accomplishements as they were? Why do you insist on artifically forcing your personal belief system on them? If they did not believe in what you believe in, then they were no good? Is that your problem?”It is obvious to me that you did not read my last long post. READ IT AGAIN. I never claimed that the founders, many of which were deists, were fundamentalist Christians. I claimed, rightly , that the separation that many in the is country have strived for, and that courts in many cases have erected, was never meant to be as high as it is currently, and I posted evidence of that. I also stated and will re-state for you- they were not aghast about Christian religion having a place in our political arena and having influence over it. I guess you don’t really read or try to think before your spout, because I did not post that they were what some of you call “fundies”. As for Persiflage, he did not address what I posted either – Fact is , there were Christians and deists in the founders makeup – I accept that. But they did not demonize those that got involved in politics that had perhaps more “fundamental ” christian beliefs. And they believed that we Christians had a positive influence over the political course of the country. Besides that, we have the right to that, did that ever occur to you?And get this- when they had the constitutional convention, they all broke for prayer many times during that time.As far as Obama goes, he is moderating his political position, and he does have Christian beliefs, good enough for me. I think his policies on par have been okay except for his health care bill, poorly written , not vetted, and expensive to the hilt. It will be declared unconstitutional and die , and perhaps we can have a better one that is actually transparently debated this time. He has good intentions but has little economic common sense. It trust his intent, but not his policies all the time. He needs pay attention and shrink the government across the board before we go broke.

  • persiflage

    ‘He needs pay attention and shrink the government across the board before we go broke.’Just at a time when chronic unemployment has a become a plague on the nation, republicans are again beating the drum of ‘reducing the size of government’ and essentially pinkslipping thousands of government employees as ‘unnecessary’ to the mission and role of government. What a great idea – putting additional tens of thousands of people out of work. And this is all about pandering to their dumb a$$ supporters – because they know good and well it will never happen. State governments are on the verge of bankrupcy, and yet states rights maniacs fail to see that federal funds are all that’s been keeping a number of these grossly mismanaged states and their finances afloat…..ya, we need alot more of that for sure. Without federal support, we’d be back to driving on dirt roads before long. The GOP – the party of no ideas….or very bad ones.

  • Sara121

    “And get this- when they had the constitutional convention, they all broke for prayer many times during that time.”Perhaps individuals prayed when they took breaks in debate, but there was no group prayer during the Constitutional Convention. Franklin moved for an opening prayer to be added, a non-denominational prayer, and the motion was debated. But since the delegations couldn’t agree on which denomination minister should give it, as it would unfairly favor that denomination over others, and there was no money to pay for it, among other things, the motion was dropped. Franklin noted in his journal that “The Convention – except for three or four persons – thought prayer unnecessary.”No group prayer – and they still managed to come up with one of the most astounding political documents in history.I think people forget just acrimonious the dialogue used to be between different Christian sects in American history. The original idea behind the First Amendment was to ensure that no one Christian sect was able to use the aegis of state power to dominate other Christian sects. The Constitution was meant as a living document, to be reinterpreted as society changed, while adhering to certain basic principles. Because the language of the First Amendment doesn’t mention Christianity specifically – on purpose – it also means that a whole religion cannot use the aegis of state power to dominate other whole religions.

  • Counterww

    Persiflage says:”Government in a secular democracy needs to be protected from the influence of these religious beliefs as far as possible. Protecting government from religious people has thus far proven impossible, but the less intercourse between sectarian and secular, the better.”Washington says:It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?Washington is saying that we cannot have political prosperity if we don’t allow indispensable supports- religion and morality to thrive in influencing our political system. THAT IS WHAT HE IS SAYING…..He is saying both the politician and the pious should realize this.It is obvious YOU DON’T and would want people like me to just shut up because we are religious. I won’t . And I have the constitutional right to influence the government with whatever my world view is , religious or not.Trinitarianism ? Really? Mainline Christianity has existed a long time, long before 1776. And really , those who believed in the gospels and the Godhead were around back then too.You have also said the following:If you read Washington address, the statement above and his address are diametrically opposing viewpoints. I will take his.And you are still full of crap.Again, Washington and you

  • Sara121

    “Government workers? Really? They produce NOTHING. They don’t turn dollars in our economy and create wealth, they simply eat up tax dollars that we are BORROWING from across the globe while our dollar weakens and weakens.”True, government workers don’t typically produce anything in an economic sense, though that doesn’t mean there’s no value added to certain government paid jobs, especially police and fire departments. I would agree that some government jobs certainly could stand to be cut. Two things have to be kept in mind though. If thousands of government jobs are cut all at once, that’s thousands of people suddenly eligible for unemployment benefits. If the private sector were hiring more, it wouldn’t be a big deal. Second, government workers do the same thing with their paychecks as everyone else: they buy stuff. Gas, groceries, vehicles, entertainment, household items, education, you name it. So that would be tens of thousands of people on unemployment benefits spending less money on the economy. Some of those jobs do, yes, need to be cut, but not all in one fell swoop.

  • Counterww

    The lessons of history, especially those of the meetings of our Founding Fathers, teaches us that those men realized the value of God in society. The value of prayer in the weightier matters of politics was also an important thing to them. Despite the challenges of those that oppose true history, and would like to introduce their own version of revised history, it turns out that Dr. Franklin, despite his past questions about the existence of God, believed it to be important for the Founders of this nation to ask for divine assistance in what proved to be the formation of our American system. Perhaps there were, or were not, official prayers during the Convention, but denying that the delegates wanted God’s blessing and direction, is truly an example of ignorance.This is what the truth is… and some on this forum simply ignore it.Religion and politics CAN and SHOULD be together to some degree… but you all want the religious to go to the back of the bus , that is what you really want. Ain’t happening.

  • Sara121

    I’m not saying the Founding Fathers didn’t believe in god in one form or another or didn’t think god was important to society. They did and they did, but that is actually irrelevant. What is relevant is that they also believed that no one religious group should be able to use state power – the ability to make and enforce legislation – to dominate other religious groups. “…in matters of religion, no man’s right is abridged by the institution of Civil Society and that religion is wholly exempt from its cognizance. … Because religion is exempt from the authority of the society at large, still less can it be subject to that of the legislative body. The latter are but creatures and viceregents of the former. Their jurisdiction is both derivative and limited… The rulers who are guilty of such an encroachment, exceed the commission from which they derive their authority, and are tyrants. … If ‘all men are by nature equally free and independent,’ all men are to be considered as entering into society on equal conditions; as relinquishing no more, and therefore retaining no less, one than another of their natural rights. Above all are they to be considered as retaining an ‘equal title to the free exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience.’ Whilst we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess and to observe the religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny an equal freedom to those whose minds have not yet yielded to the evidence which has convinced us. If this freedom be abused, it is an offense against god, not against man.”Excepts from James Madison’s Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessment. These are from three of the fifteen separate points Madison laid out for the Virginia legislature describing why the mixture of religion and government is both unnecessary and dangerous.

  • persiflage

    Corporate America is the entity that is currently NOT hiring – because they don’t need to. Their profits increase quarter by quarter, without any significant re-hiring….millions of jobs are gone for good – the folks getting re-hired are generally taking much lower wages than before. Desperate times are very, very, good for folks at the top of this economy. BTW, Washington was a Mason – admission to the Masonic Order requires a declared belief in ‘a higher power’ – but not in any conventional deity espoused by organized religion…..There is little doubt that adherence to some kind of religious belief system was de rigor back in the early formative days of America – people spoke of God in a variety of contexts, although I really believe rather more with more metaphorical intent, rather than devout belief. Why? Because no one knows the first thing about God. Religious folk may or may not be referring to a higher power during these moments of spontaneous expression, but then, so do staunch members of AA. There’s nothing wrong whatsoever in believing in a higher power. But what does a generic higher power have to do with running a government by, of, and for the people…..?The Deists thought…. not very much. But, all in all, it was probably assumed that being religious in the Christian sense, was far better than being a heathen, back in the day…..like those redskins that got in the way of our Manifest Destiny a little later on (otherwise known as the great land grab).Us Christians certainly showed them injuns a thing or two……

  • persiflage

    ‘Government workers? Really? They produce NOTHING. They don’t turn dollars in our economy and create wealth, they simply eat up tax dollars that we are BORROWING from across the globe while our dollar weakens and weakens.’Now you sound like one of those rightwing dullards that seem to know nothing about the role of the federal government in our everyday life – either state or federal, this is the fundamental legislative SUPPORT system that enables the general society to prosper – including that vaunted private sector of yours….whose fiscal greed caused the whole thing right here in River City to nearly unravel. More government oversight rather than less, would probably have prevented it.Every economist on either side of the great party divide acknowledges the necessity of these ongoing government bailouts that Bush actually started back in 2007- apparently you don’t read much.The GOP is only making noise about it now (Ben Bernanke, the chief of the Fed, is a republican from South Carolina) because their dimwit voter base doesn’t seem to know apples from oranges, or why government bailouts were necessary in the first place – two words…..uncontained greed and lots of bad faith from investment bankers, financial manipulators of all sorts, and the mortgage industry i.e. the private sector – and very limited government oversight.

  • Counterww

    Actually EEZMAMATA, for the tiniest moment you should consider that we are all creations of a creator. It is amusing to me that you attempt to analyze me and that I sound “desperate” . It is more like this: someone intelligent who also believes is countering the skeptic’s, atheistic BS that you all spout with the same theme.You know, whatever- I will continue to “sound desperate” like you say, but you will in your opinion illustrate that you have moved beyond gods . I actually look at it from the other perspective. The people who do believe in God but not the Christian God are much closer to the truth in that they understand innately that we are created, but have missed the boat on the truth in some manner. It is the atheist that is totally lost, and has in essence made him or herself their own god, to decide what is right or wrong, and what is rational or irrational. I find it perplexing , amusing , and it reminds me of the old dirty harry film at the end where he says: “a man has to realize his own limitations” Mankind is limited, God is not.

  • persiflage

    ‘The people who do believe in God but not the Christian God are much closer to the truth in that they understand innately that we are created, but have missed the boat on the truth in some manner.’The phenomenal arrogance of some self-declared christians is beyond the pale. They really overdosed on the koolaid. This supercilious attitude of superiority when it comes to other religions (much less their non-religious brethren) is precisely why Christianity is considered to have cult-like features – by objective observers that still have their wits about them. Wow! And that old saint counterweight wonders why the non-theists have a problem with religion in government!? What would TJ say? I hesitate to say it – but I may have to start employing Timmy’s term of ‘brain-washed’ when confronting this ‘take no prisoners’ mindset exhibited by Christians of a certain persuasion…..now that’s too bad.

  • persiflage

    ‘Some of those jobs do, yes, need to be cut, but not all in one fell swoop.’I’m not picking on you Sara, because you are an excellent poster with good ideas.However, before one decides exactly whose job needs to be eliminated as ‘unnecessary’ it might be wise to consider how valuable our own job is to society, and exactly what it is that we contribute to the welfare of others. First and foremost, we have to take care of our own, so that’s a given. And then, exactly how we might feel if someone with hiring and firing authority decides our particular job is not only unimportant, but completely expendible. Take a hike!And there we are, in the same unemployment line with all those unnecessary government workers, and just when we thought we were indispensible. When the middle class decides to thin it’s own ranks for the sake of some vague and unproven ideology tendered by politicians and generated for their own benefit, it’s just a little bit like suicide – the unassisted kind.The number of Wall Street brokers, stock traders, and hedge fund managers that do absolutely nothing whatsover to benefit mankind in the course of their labors, and yet account for the accumlation of vast sums of money and personal fortunes, are no more necessary to the common good than professional gamblers in Las Vegas. This culture supports parasites of all kinds – and some of them are far better paid than your typical ‘fatcat’ government worker. There are probably preachers in every town that bring down $250,000 per annum or much more – and what good are they? So the value that we attach to jobs, livelihoods, and incomes, is all pretty relative in the end. It’s just good to have even a tiny piece of the pie. It’s gratifying to pay our own bills, and to continue to pay for the utilities and groceries after we retire. Who doesn’t want that? Congress has all that and much, much more. Many are already multi-millionaires, and yet have the most generous retirement programs and benefits in the entire federal government. But here’s the thing – they don’t think of themselves as government workers. They are ‘elected officials’ and are, in their minds, not subject to the same policies that they would lay down for the rest of the federal government. In other words, they are exempt from their own rules.Nice work if you can get it………

  • persiflage

    ‘One other thing- people can get to know God, and that is where you miss the boat-’An example would help here – one from personal experience if you don’t mind.’You are no better than Timmy persiflage.’I’m no better than you either. I just don’t believe in divine humans, or in divinities period……what we don’t know or can’t explain isn’t divine, it’s just unknown. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s beyond experience, but humans are often premature in their explanations and suppositions. When beliefs don’t change over thousands of years, one has to wonder why – since so much of what we do know has only recently been discovered. Sometimes it takes ages to see the error of our ways. Imagine what we’ll know in a thousand years…..and then imagine how wrong we probably are about everything we think we know now. How can religion not be subject to the same fate??Everything changes – Timmy and I agree on this.

  • eezmamata

    ‘We are flawed and sinners. All of us.’You’re telling everybody what they are, believers and non-believers alike. Tell us some more about this arrogance problem you have.

  • eezmamata

    ‘We are flawed and sinners. All of us.’You’re telling everybody what they are, believers and non-believers alike. Tell us some more about this arrogance problem you have.

  • eezmamata

    This nonsense about wrong-believers is even funnier. There are a lot more rules in your book of myths about believing in the wrong gods than there are about believing in none of them. Even you know that. Entire populations were murdered by the followers of your god, justified because they believed in the wrong gods. Shall I list all the locations in Leviticus for you where this is described … or don’t you read your own bible?Nobody in your bible is murdered because they don’t believe in any gods.Tell us some more about how believing in the wrong gods is better than believing in none. Your own description of your insanity if far more amusing than anything I could invent.

  • habibbarri

    If Obama was a confessing secularist would he be pandering to the religion of secularism? Do secularists have any foundation for ethics? For them ethics comes down to power and volume.

  • eezmamata

    Secularism is a political philosophy, not a religion. Perhaps you, so used to insisting your religious delusions be the basis of all governance are unable to perceive this.Because you still use your santa clausian punishment scheme as the basis of your ethics, you never really grew up, never really matured as an adult. It does make it difficult for people like you to perceive how the adults develop their ethics, that’s true. In fact it makes it impossible for us to explain it to you, that’s why none of us ever bother.

  • Sara121

    “Do secularists have any foundation for ethics? For them ethics comes down to power and volume.”Ethics and morality are based on cooperation and the necessity to trust in order to cooperate to have a functional society. Being honest and trustworthy, not cheating or stealing is how we show that we are capable of cooperating and can contribute to society. Early hominids began to think abstractly about this and it helped them survive better than others. It is an evolutionary trait. No god required to come down and sign the memo. All social animals do this at least on an instinctual level – dolphins, whales, elephants, wolves, bees, ants, and so forth. They all cooperate to keep their population group functional and surviving. That religions adopted ideas like don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal, don’t murder, as good ideas is to their credit (even though humanity already knew that), but that doesn’t mean that religions invented those ideas or that any one religion has any kind of monopoly on them. They are not religious ideas.

  • edbyronadams

    “That religions adopted ideas like don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal, don’t murder, as good ideas is to their credit (even though humanity already knew that), but that doesn’t mean that religions invented those ideas or that any one religion has any kind of monopoly on them. They are not religious ideas.”POSTED BY: SARA121What are the consequences for a secularist of lying, stealing or cheating if they can avoid getting caught by the enforcement mechanisms of society? That is the difference between a society based on spiritual principles rather than abstract ideas. For an uber logical, as they like to think of themselves, secularist proposing that the golden rule comes naturally and promoting it in society is logical. So is cheating on it whenever you can benefit and get away with it.

  • eezmamata

    “Time to read the Bill of rights , and while you are at it, read the gospels and the book of Romans – about 10 times until it sinks in.”I read the bill of rights, I study the constitution. The only reason I read your primitive, barbaric monstrous bible is so that I can know how to predict the behavior of people like you. It’s the same reason I read the Q’uran … really, you people are the same, the same primitive cowardly fear of reality animating them animates you.The only reason we don’t see christians oppression in the US is BECAUSE of the bill of rights, because our founding fathers knew of you and your kind. You are evil, you are a coward who can’t deal with reality without the imaginary hand of your sky daddy fantasies.You worship a god, one imagined for you, I mean you lack the intelligence to even invent one for yourself – this god in yoru story made himself into his own son, caused himself to be sacrified, and people like you worship that corpse.You eat its flesh, you drink its blood, you are SICK cannibals and vampires. You are sick, you are mentally ill, you are diseased. And to protect your infection you demand that our common governent support it.You are sick in the head, you are a juvenile, primitive, barbaric believer in one of the most barbaric, monstrous, malevolent gods humanity has ever invented.Time passes, you pathetic believers receive less and less support from the intelligent humans, and you resent it more. Comes the time, when only the mentally ill will believe what you believe. Are you ready for that?I doubt it. You’re a coward.

  • eezmamata

    So is cheating on it whenever you can benefit and get away with it.POSTED BY: EDBYRONADAMSLet’s examine the consequences of ‘secular’ beliefs. Look at the FBI statistics of our prisons, one would think they would be infested with atheists given the religious fool’s opinion.Hmmm, you can look this up for yourself. I’m going to imagine you know how.Protestants, Catholics, and all other variants of the christians are represented in our prisons at the same rate they are represented in our population. But atheists make up only 0.2% of the prison population, yet we make up between 8%-10% of the population.Isn’t that strange? Why do you suppose we aren’t just out there stealing and raping and murdering at the same rate as the christians?Do you have an answer for that? Are you intelligent enough to even ask yourself the question?

  • moedavid

    TO EEZMAMATA: Although on a forum like this it is difficult to comprehensively discuss all the issues, perhaps the following should be taken into account in your statistical analysis: Within decades after the emergence of the theory of Darwinian Evolution the first major atheistic ideology was born. ATheistic tyrants such as Stalin, Mao, and Pol-Pot managed to shed more innocent blood and cause more human misery in a 70 year period than all religious tyrants had managed to do in the previous 1000 years.

  • Sara121

    There are certainly many causes to war and it takes a great deal of research and scholarship to determine whether religion was genuinely a causal factor in a particular war. The Inquisition, Crusades and various jihads are the obvious ones that immediately come to mind. However, there is no denying the efficacy of religiosity as a motivational factor and as a dehumanizing factor. As to your list of dictators, there are several factors that they share with organized religion, such as a dogmatic adherence to a specific ideology, intolerance of dissent, and a singular focus on a leader or small group of leaders which are readily identified with that ideology, and whose names are essentially interchangeable with that ideology. Your list of leaders have more in common with the leaders of the Inquisition, Crusades, the proprietors of Manifest Destiny, and of various other holy wars than they do with the people who post on this site. I notice you didn’t list HItler, so a quick note on him. He was raised a Christian. Though it is arguable whether or not he actually practiced as an adult, he was certainly not above using the occasional religious language, and more importantly, his choice of Jews, Gypsies, and homosexuals (traditional Christian targets) as the bulk of his scapegoat policy was absolutely informed by the religious history of Christianity and Europe.There are certainly some notable atheists who have have done some horrible things, as well as plenty of religious people who have done some equally horrible things. But there are many more of both religious people and atheists who are perfectly decent people. That proves nothing except to support my earlier point that religion and morality are not inherently related. It is perfectly possible to be one without being the other. We should judge based on individual actions, not on generalizations.

  • Sara121

    One additional note. The horrendous actions of dictators who are said to be atheists are done in the name of their ideology (Communism, for example), not atheism, per se. Stalin and Mao’s dislike of religion and Catholicism in particular was that it represented a competing hierarchal power structure that they found threatening to their maintenance of power.

  • Sara121

    “Within decades after the emergence of the theory of Darwinian Evolution the first major atheistic ideology was born.”Karl Marx published his Communist manifesto in 1848, and the revolutions in Europe started almost immediately. It was published in America in 1850. Darwin’s On the Origins of Species wasn’t published until 1859.

  • WmarkW

    Stalin and Mao’s dislike of religion and Catholicism in particular was that it represented a competing hierarchical power structure that they found threatening to their maintenance of power.I do think it’s likely that atheism is a luxury only a free society can afford.

  • Counterww

    Persiflage twists and turns the history and also the how Christianity borrowed pagan stuff with it.The origins of Christianity came from Christ himself, and the apostles including John , Peter,and of course Paul.Set yourself free, persiflage. Find the risen King .Love Him and you will be set free.Disgard him , and find out what happens, as this body on earth we are clothed in perishes for all of us eventually.

  • ThomasBaum

    persiflage You wrote, “The pros and cons are many, but should he be a real historical personality, few (if any) historians of religion are willing to grant him divinity of any kind, including many bible scholars of note.”Do you think that “Jesus’s Divinity” rests on whether anyone believes it or not, including “many bible scholars of note”?See you and the rest of humanity in the Kingdom including those that might not be willing to “grant him divinity”.An interesting verse, “At that time Jesus said in reply, “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.”Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • persiflage

    ‘Do you think that “Jesus’s Divinity” rests on whether anyone believes it or not, including “many bible scholars of note”?Incredible claims require credible evidence. And so it goes with all claims of the religious kind. Real evidence of supernatural worlds and divine beings is in short supply, despite the many claims to the contrary.”…… for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.”When I was a child I had an invisible friend. Why no one else could see my friend was a complete mystery to me…..and still is.

  • ThomasBaum

    persiflage You wrote, “When I was a child I had an invisible friend. Why no one else could see my friend was a complete mystery to me…..and still is.”I have no idea if your “invisible friend” was real or not, I did not have an “invisible friend” when I was a child.As you should know tho, there is a difference between being childish and childlike.You also wrote, “Real evidence of supernatural worlds and divine beings is in short supply, despite the many claims to the contrary.”Who’s to say whether or not any of these “claims” have any validity?I suppose that when “real evidence” is not in short supply that will mean that the “age of faith” has ended.You also wrote, “Incredible claims require credible evidence. And so it goes with all claims of the religious kind.”I realize that some of the things that I have stated on here and in person, as far as I am concerned, go way past the “incredible claim” category.Nevertheless, I have experienced these experiences and I know that I can not offer “credible evidence” and that is why I have stated that it will be God, not me, Who will offer the “credible evidence” or “proof” that God Is.There is One God and God is a Trinity and God is a Being of Pure Love but there is much more in the “supernatural realm” than just God.That which is in the “supernatural realm” that is not God, however has been created.There is more to creation than just the “natural realm”.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • persiflage

    ‘I realize that some of the things that I have stated on here and in person, as far as I am concerned, go way past the “incredible claim” category.’Well, many mystics have done the same. I’m reminded of Emmanuel Swedenborg, who wrote voluminously of his spiritual visits to the afterlife realms, conversations with angels, and so forth – and many other things religious. He was also the Da Vinci of his day with regard to his inventions and his scientific endeavors. I don’t doubt the sincerity of his accounts, or the personal impact of his experiences. Unfortunately, we don’t really know what that all means for the rest of us. He, and many like him, were perfectly sane – but in my view, were similarly trapped in imaginative worlds of their own making. Ultimately, we just don’t have any comprehension of what this means in the larger scheme of things. The mind of man remains unknown. We all have to rely on personal experience, for better or worse. Some of it just doesn’t translate to the world at large – nor does it otherwise have any real significance to objective observers. And so it goes……….

  • ThomasBaum

    YEAL9 You wrote, “It is very disturbing that such religious fanaticism, violence and hatred continues unabated due to radomness of birth.”How can you possibly say that someone’s birth is random?I believe that God knew exactly when and where I would be born in history.From a scientific point of view, the right combinations needed for the physical person that I became, became available and came together the moment that I was conceived.This “randomness”, that you reference, does not stand up to any scientific scrutiny whatsoever.Of course, I believe that I am more than just the “physical” but the “physical” is part of me also. You also wrote, ” Had St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas been born in Mecca at the start of the present century, the chances are that they would not have been Christians but loyal followers of the prophet Mohammed.” – J. Somerville”As I have already stated, neither one could have been born at a different time in history and the “What if?” game, that this J. Somerville is talking about, is meaningless since this “What if?”, never happened.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • detroitblkmale30

    “Incredible claims require credible evidence. And so it goes with all claims of the religious kind.” Not so. This is faith not science. one does not need evidence to have faith. in the Christian faith the onus is on one’s faith not one’s belief in what is right in front of them.

  • YEAL9

    o From Father Edward Schillebeeckx, the famous contemporary theologian, from his book, Church: The Human Story of God, Crossroad, 1993, p.91 (softcover) “Christians must give up a perverse, unhealthy and inhuman doctrine of predestination without in so doing making God the great scapegoat of history” . “Nothing is determined in advance: in For God, too, history is an adventure, an open history for and of men and women.”

  • YEAL9

    From Father Edward Schillebeeckx, the famous contemporary theologian, from his book, Church: The Human Story of God, Crossroad, 1993, p.91 (softcover) “Christians must give up a perverse, unhealthy and inhuman doctrine of predestination without in so doing making God the great scapegoat of history” . “Nothing is determined in advance: in Therefore the historical future is not known even to God; otherwise we and our history would be merely a puppet show in which God holds the strings. For God, too, history is an adventure, an open history for and of men and women.”

  • ThomasBaum

    YEAL9 You wrote quoting, ‘Father Edward Schillebeeckx’, “Christians must give up a perverse, unhealthy and inhuman doctrine of predestination without in so doing making God the great scapegoat of history” .”Only if one has a tiny “conception” of God, is this the case.You then added, “”Nothing is determined in advance: in As I have stated, if one has a “conception” of God as just something on the order of a superman, would this be the case.God not only is a Being of Pure Love, which is beyond our comprehension, but while being One Is a Trinity.How true the verse: “At that time Jesus said in reply, “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.” And then you wrote, “For God, too, history is an adventure, an open history for and of men and women.”Actually, God is not only completely outside of God’s creation but God became a member, Jesus (God-Incarnate), of God’s creation at a very specific time and place.And not only that, but as Jesus told us He would do, He sent the Holy Spirit to guide us so that God is very actively working in God’s creation even as we chat.God’s Plan, which God has had since before creation, will come to Fruition.See you and the rest of humanity in the Kingdom, the new heavens and the new earth.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • twmatthews

    testing to see if this site is still active.

  • twmatthews

    Thomas B. said, “God not only is a Being of Pure Love, which is beyond our comprehension”How do you reconcile your own statement? If God is beyond our comprehension, how can you comprehend him enough to be able to define his/her essence?You then go on to define God’s capabilities as though you do indeed comprehend God. Here’s another example: “Actually, God is not only completely outside of God’s creation but God became a member, Jesus (God-Incarnate), of God’s creation at a very specific time and place.”I’m just wondering Thomas whether you really believe God is beyond comprehension since you’ve described him in this post and others. Now to Yeal’s point, isn’t it a little suspect to insinuate that God is beyond all creation implying that time itself, both historical and future, are the same to God. If that’s true, I would wonder why God didn’t see Satan coming? Why he didn’t see Eve’s fall? Why would God leave Eve alone with Satan in the first place, especially considering that poor Eve at the time couldn’t differentiate right from wrong and therefore was particularly vulnerable to Satan’s words. A 13-year old babysitter wouldn’t be that irresponsible and yet you don’t hold God accountable for anything.One final question Thomas. You said, “And not only that, but as Jesus told us He would do, He sent the Holy Spirit to guide us so that God is very actively working in God’s creation even as we chat.”If the Holy Spirit is guiding people why do we have hundreds of Christian denominations all with variations in belief and literally thousands of interpretations? How do you know that that voice you hear is more real more accurate than John Doe’s voice or Jane Smith’s?

  • ThomasBaum

    twmatthews Part IIYou then wrote, “If the Holy Spirit is guiding people why do we have hundreds of Christian denominations all with variations in belief and literally thousands of interpretations?”I can not give a “definitive” answer to that but I will attempt to answer it the best that I can:First off, the Holy Spirit does not guide us like we are “automatons”.Second, some decide on their on to speak “for God” rather than “about God”.Third, some of those that speak “about God” also seem to think that the words (believe and know) mean the same thing and they do not.Fourth, we are not called to be “clones” and everyone has a different “job”, so to speak.Fifth, it doesn’t really matter to me, God chose me to speak, so I speak, whether or not people “believe” what I write or say in person is up to them, but unless they actually read or hear what I say than they can’t make a decision, one way or the other, can they?Gives people something to think about if they are willing to think about it, rather than just dismissing it out of hand.You then wrote, ” How do you know that that voice you hear is more real more accurate than John Doe’s voice or Jane Smith’s?”When God the Father came into my heart, there was no voice. When the Holy Spirit came into my body, there was no voice. When the Holy Spirit revealed to me that the Catholic Eucharist is Jesus, it was not verbal.When I “battled” satan one on one for 24 plus hours, it was verbal and when it got “too intense” someone or Someone, I would say, stepped in.However, I have had a couple of dreams that I know were from God, whether God personally or a representative, so to speak, I do not know and these were verbal.I am not here to say whether “John Doe’s voice or Jane Smith’s” is from God or not, it is my “job” to do what I believe God wants me to do and also to realize that I am not the only one that God is working thru, it’s God’s “job” to be God, not mine.And as far as my “job”, even tho I refer to it as my “job”, I realize that it is Our “job”, God’s and mine.There is no way that I could do the “job” God gave me on my own.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • ThomasBaum

    twmatthews Part IYou wrote, “How do you reconcile your own statement? If God is beyond our comprehension, how can you comprehend him enough to be able to define his/her essence?I did not “comprehend him (God) enough”, I met God.You then wrote, “I’m just wondering Thomas whether you really believe God is beyond comprehension since you’ve described him in this post and others.”I, most definitely, believe that God is beyond our comprehension but God can and does make Himself known thru “personal revelations”.And as I have stated on previous posts, even tho I use masculine pronouns in referring to God, it is not accurate, since God is neither a Male, a Female nor an It, even tho God-Incarnate was a Male but it can be handy to use pronouns at time.I have also stated that it was to a woman that God asked permission to become One of us, you know the “free will” thing.You then wrote, ” If that’s true, I would wonder why God didn’t see Satan coming?”What do you mean that you “wonder why God didn’t see Satan coming?”, who do you think created satan?Then you wrote, “Why he didn’t see Eve’s fall?”With the “fall of man”, we have choices to make (free will), and as far as God “didn’t see (or foresee) Eve’s fall”, of course God knew it would happen.You then asked, “Why would God leave Eve alone with Satan in the first place, especially considering that poor Eve at the time couldn’t differentiate right from wrong and therefore was particularly vulnerable to Satan’s words.”First off, I am not God, but I would say that Eve knew she was not suppose to do what you did, whether it is literal or figurative is immaterial, and unless one is allowed to make a choice then one would basically be a puppet on a string, don’t you think?You then wrote, ” A 13-year old babysitter wouldn’t be that irresponsible and yet you don’t hold God accountable for anything.”Do you mean like God giving us choices to make rather than just creating us as puppets?If we were merely “puppets on a string”, there would be no way that we could take any responsibility for anything that we do but since we can and do make choices (free will) then it is up to us whether or not we “fess up”, so to speak, and take responsibility for what we do.

  • twmatthews

    Thanks for your replies Thomas. It still seems to me that you are unintentionally contradicting yourself. But maybe I’m simply misreading your statements.For example, you said “I, most definitely, believe that God is beyond our comprehension but God can and does make Himself known thru “personal revelations”. And yet, your conclusions that God created Satan and Eve should have known better, are spoken as if you “comprehend” God. Your words seem to be a contradiction.You also seem to be limiting God which is what I find interesting from many faithful. When asked why there is still evil in this world — assuming God doesn’t want evil even though according to you he created it — the almost universal response is free will. The implication that’s made is God couldn’t have created humans and given them free will and allow them to turn out better than you believe we have turned out.I would ask why God couldn’t have made man to have both free will and such an abiding thirst for love and compassion that there never would have been a fall or the need to destroy the world.Most believers I speak with are so blinded by their faith that they make assumptions as to the possibility of a world with free will that’s much better than the world we have. But to do so would mean that God didn’t do such a good job and so believers blame it on free will. Think about it Thomas. This is a world in which for a good part of living creatures, their survival depends upon killing other creatures. Do you think this is the best world that could have been created, assuming it was designed?Now as to Eve, you make the statement “First off, I am not God, but I would say that Eve knew she was not suppose to do what you did,”And without knowing what was right and what was wrong, how was she supposed to know what she did was wrong?You can’t make the claim that prior to eating of the fruit of the tree which gave her knowledge of right/wrong or good/evil that she should have known what was right. As to your personal experiences. If someone told you of their personal experience about having been abducted by aliens, would you believe them without any evidence? Do you think that Joseph Smith had divine revelations from God’s representative? If not, why not?

  • ThomasBaum

    twmatthews Part IIIYou then wrote, “Or, the conclusion that I came to years ago is that all of these stories from creation to the floods to the Exodus are just fabrications — no different from any other mythical stories.”I don’t look at the bible as a “scientific treatise”.Some of the things in the bible are quite literal, some aren’t.One of the things in the bible that is quite literal and I know that it is because the literalness of it has been revealed to me is the bread and wine being turned into the Body and Blood of Jesus.Seems that there are going to be quite a few, that are in for a shock to find out that God is not the egomaniac that they think God to be and, even sadder to say, some that seem to want God to be.You then asked, “As to your personal experiences. If someone told you of their personal experience about having been abducted by aliens, would you believe them without any evidence?”I wouldn’t, but what does that have to do with my meeting God?One of the things that I have found interesting is that, at least among people that believe in God, most, it seems, find it a lot easier to believe that someone that they have never met or is from long ago has had an encounter with God, so to speak, than someone that they can actually speak to rather than hear about.I am just a messenger, God has already become One of us and has told us to PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS, well the Good News would not be Good News at all if it were not for ALL.You then asked, “Do you think that Joseph Smith had divine revelations from God’s representative?”I don’t have the slightest idea for the simple reason that I do not even know what these “divine revelations” might have been.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • ThomasBaum

    twmatthews Part IIYou then wrote, “But to do so would mean that God didn’t do such a good job and so believers blame it on free will.If one looks at this world and thinks that this is the whole enchilada, so to speak, than I could very much see why one could think a “better job” could have been done but if there is a “reason” and a “Plan” over and above, so to speak, that which we can sense with our senses than maybe we have to deal with what is rather than what isn’t, even if it isn’t we still have to deal with what is, don’t we?Some people may “blame it on free will” but without “free will” would we be nothing more than fancy, dancy puppets?Some blame it on human nature.Some blame it on the electrical, chemical, biological processes going on in our bodies.Some accept responsibility for the things they have done.We have a choice blame it on various “things”, other people or take responsibility.You then wrote, “Think about it Thomas. This is a world in which for a good part of living creatures, their survival depends upon killing other creatures.”Very much so. Death is very much a part of the cycle of life. There are also choices to be made in these aspects: What are the “reasons” or lack of one that a life is taken, just how is that life taken.You then asked, “Do you think this is the best world that could have been created, assuming it was designed?”I don’t know exactly what you mean by “designed” but if you mean something, to the effect, that God knows absolutely everything about His creation which was created out of absolutely nothing, no atoms, no subatomic matter, when I say absolutely nothing that is exactly what I mean.I don’t look at creation as being finished, I look at it as, we are in the sixth day and have been in the sixth day ever since man has been man and the seventh day, new heavens and a new earth, will come when it comes so how could I or anyone else give an adequate response to the question you ask concerning a “work in progress”.You then asked, “And without knowing what was right and what was wrong, how was she supposed to know what she did was wrong?”I did not say that what she did was wrong, I said that what she did was something she was told she should not do, it was disobedience.I find it interesting that the root of “obedience” is listening.You then wrote, “You can’t make the claim that prior to eating of the fruit of the tree which gave her knowledge of right/wrong or good/evil that she should have known what was right.”I didn’t.

  • ThomasBaum

    twmatthews Part IYou wrote, “And yet, your conclusions that God created Satan and Eve should have known better, are spoken as if you “comprehend” God. Your words seem to be a contradiction.”I know that satan is real and if satan were not created than that would mean that satan would also be god, satan is a wannabe god but he is not god.I did not exactly say that Eve “should have known better”, I said that she did something that she was asked not to do.When I say that I can not “comprehend” God, I have stated that I can not comprehend that God is a Being of Pure Love, as in Love not being an attribute of God but God’s very Being.Even tho I “know” this from meeting God, it does not mean that I understand, so to speak, how Love can be a Being as opposed to an attribute.I also use my mind in thinking about God, I guess in some ways this could be somewhat equivalent to what the bible says about Mary, “She pondered these things in her heart”.You then wrote, “The implication that’s made is God couldn’t have created humans and given them free will and allow them to turn out better than you believe we have turned out.”I have to look at reality for what it is not for what it isn’t.You then wrote, “I would ask why God couldn’t have made man to have both free will and such an abiding thirst for love and compassion that there never would have been a fall or the need to destroy the world.”This is something that you can take up with God when you meet Him but I have to live in and deal with the reality that I live in.God’s Plan which you have seen me write about and that it is for ALL, ultimately, to be with God in the Kingdom, the new heavens and the new earth.A couple of things concerning this Plan, we are called to “rise above” our human nature and to be honest with you, I do not know if I have found even one that wants God’s Victory to be Total.We can complain all we want about how God should have done this or done that to make this world better than it is but the fact is, this world is not our true, lasting home.After God’s Plan comes to Fruition, people may, to put it mildly, look at things differently.As far as a “thirst for love and compassion”, how you ever thought that the reality of this life might just be the thing that brings this out in some?You then wrote, “Most believers I speak with are so blinded by their faith that they make assumptions as to the possibility of a world with free will that’s much better than the world we have.”I think you meant “impossibility” assumed by “most believers”, didn’t you?As I have said, I take reality for what it is, we can go round and round with ourself or with others with the “what if” game or we can take reality for what it is.