Sunday, March 29, 2009

Post No. 98: Jesus Christ and the Democrats


We recently asked our readers to submit possible topics for discussion, and we received numerous responses. We posted one of them earlier today entitled, "Jesus Christ and the Republicans."

One of our regular readers felt that it might be interesting to examine this issue from another perspective. The following is the question presented by this reader:


"Taking into account the liberal social values of the Democrats, are they consistent with the teachings and practices of Jesus Christ?"

13 comments:

  1. I see this as a bogus issue, masquerading as the flipside of the question asked in the previous thread. The Democrats don't run as Christians and they don't make a specific appeal to the Christian community. There are not Democratic organizations comparable to the Moral Majority, et al., out there propagandizing and fund raising for Democratic candidates. Democrats don't regularly try to run ideologically Christian candidates (Pat Robertson, Gary Bauer, Mike Huckabee) for POTUS. Despite the fact that it is predominately Republicans who claim to "strict constructionists" when it comes to the application of U.S. Constitution, it is Democrats who best respect the separation of church and state, which is among the most important of the founding principles of this nation. Remember that most of the early colonists came to these shores to escape religious persecution in Europe.
    All of that said, I reiterate what I said in the previous thread: in their concern for the disadvantaged and the alienated, liberals better embody the spirit of Christianity than do property right-oriented conservatives.
    If one reads the Acts of the Apostles, one will discover that the very first Christian community, the one headed by St. Peter and St. James, the community comprised entirely of believers who had actually walked with Jesus, were "communists." As a requirement of membership in the community they were required to turn all of their wealth over to the assembly for distribution on an as-needed basis to the members of the assembly. So stringent was this requirement that a man and his wife were struck dead for holding some back, and lying about it. They had withdrawn from the Roman-Jewish community-at-large and set up their own polity, according to the laws of which, private property was theft.
    Contemporary liberals don't go that far. But they do go so far as to recognize and enact the duty of the haves to provide the necessary to the have-nots. Liberals do not believe that strictly religious prohibitions of such things as divorce, homosexuality, and abortion should be codified as statute law. If your religion prohibits divorce, then you should not divorce. But you should not be able to tell citizens who are not of your religion that THEY can't divorce. That is separation of church and state upheld, and that is the proper interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, which is the basis of our national polity.

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  2. Rodak: We posted this question because it was suggested that we were being unfair to Republicans in recent posts.

    However, it appears that you hit the nail on the head when you suggested that "The Democrats don't run as Christians and they don't make a specific appeal to the Christian community. There are not Democratic organizations comparable to the Moral Majority, et al., out there... fund raising for Democratic candidates."

    We received many direct e-mails from many regular readers indicating that although this might appear to simply be the flipside of the question in Post No. 97, it doesn't withstand critical analysis, and therefore they chose not to even try to respond.

    During the last presidential campaign, there was much talk about "true Christians,", "true patriots," and "real Americans." Once you use privilege, special status, or sanction by God to define your membership, you simultaneously exclude those who disagree with you. It is the classic, "Either you are with us, or against us" framing.

    At the end of many sporting events, we frequently see athletes claim that God was with them that day, or chose them to be the victor. We've often wondered about the communication by God that leads one to claim that they are the chosen ones for that event on that day, and what evidence they have of such.

    We invite our readers to re-phrase this question so that real, substantive, responsive comments might be provided. It should be interesting.

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  3. I would leave it up and further explore exactly why it posits a strawman. I think that it would be instructive to continue the discussion with reference to the following:

    When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.
    ~ Sinclair Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here

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  4. While Rodak is right about the image of Democratic candidates for president, he is wrong about their willingness to wrap themselves in religious trappings when they feel it is needed.

    For instance, in this article:

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/01/21/obama/

    You will find how Obama used religion to help his campaign for the nomination.

    And, yet, he said this:



    There are a whole lot of religious people in America, including the majority of Democrats. When we abandon the field of religious discourse—when we ignore the debate about what it means to be a good Christian or Muslim or Jew; when we discuss religion only in the negative sense of where or how it should not be practiced, rather than in the positive sense of what it tells us about our obligations toward one another; when we shy away from religious venues and religious broadcasts because we assume that we will be unwelcome—others will fill the vacuum. And those who do are likely to be those with the most insular views of faith, or who cynically use religion to justify partisan ends.

    BARACK OBAMA, Audacity of Hope


    And this:



    Secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square. Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Williams Jennings Bryant, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King - indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history - were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. So to say that men and women should not inject their "personal morality" into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

    BARACK OBAMA, Jun. 28, 2006


    (emphasis mine)

    There are more examples where Hillary questions Obama's being in touch with the religious views of US citizens...

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-schaeffer/is-obama-elitist-and-out_b_96751.html

    I am afraid that many of us see what we wish to see and ignore that which refutes it.

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  5. ALL candidates have to appear to have some religious underpinnings in order to get elected, even if they do not believe in God. It is the acknowledged necessity in politics.

    That being said, we would have to agree with Rodak that the Republicans appear to align themselves with the "more vocal" and "active" religious interests.

    Perhaps we should have all candidates submit to a lie detector test with respect to whether they truly believe in God, have spoken to God, and regularly receive communications from God, so that we can determine who's lying.

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  6. By the way, there is a very simple reason that Mitt Romney will never be the Republican candidate for President. The vast majority of "religious Americans" will not take the time to try to understand the underpinnings and history of the Mormon religion. They're not intellectually or emotionally motivated to do so.

    Couple that with the former practice of polygamy, and you've got big problems.

    Couple that with the recent publicity about the off shoot/sect involving Jeffers, who purportedly had marriages and sex with underage girls, and you have a deal breaker. (Think about it; this guy was elevated to the FBI's 10 Most Wanted.) Ain't going to happen.

    We as a society ought to just say that directly. Not saying that it's right or logical, but it's reality.

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  7. Our system of laws, founded upon our constitution, is actually modeled much more on the model of Roman justice than it is on Judeo-Christian religious law (which is why it is legal to eat porkchops and shellfish, male circumcision isn't mandatory, and we don't stone adulteresses.) It shouldn't be forgotten that the key men among our Founding Fathers were mostly 18th century Men of the Enlightenment and Deists, not Christians (or Jews).
    That said, everything that the Logistician says above is true, and I certainly haven't implied that there are not a majority of liberals who self-identify as Christians, Jews, or even Buddhists, Hindus, Jains, or Muslims.
    Regardless of that fact, liberals do not typically advocate the passage of legislation that is developed out of sectarian religious doctrine and is, therefore, apt to be found unconstitutional if challenged.
    As for Obama's personal beliefs: where I agree with him, I agree with him; and where I don't, I don't. I think for myself and vote for those candidates with whom I find the most points of agreement. When it comes to the office of POTUS, I have voted for third party candidates (all to the left of the Democrat in question) a goodly percentage of the time, when one was available to vote for.

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  8. Yes, politicians must appeal to religious values in order to get elected. And that appeal must not be strongly biased toward any particular sect (though, currently, must be Christian). I can't imagine any candidate submitting to a lie detector test. I would actually worry more about the one(s) who passed one!*

    The idea that Republicans align themselves with the "more vocal" or "activist" religious groups may be that incorrect. It may be that those groups, being strongly religious, see the Republicans as being closer to their core values than Democrats. No political party turns away voting blocs, if that bloc will not hurt them badly by association. Therefore, the less (or even those seen as "anti") religious activist groups align themselves with Democrats. Both parties, I think, try to encourage such and try to portray the others' groups in a negative manner.

    And Rodak should try to point out just where in the Constitution the words "separation of church and state" exist. They do not.

    He also might consider that Fascism has no specific religion nor has ever related itself to one. Communism is a fascist system with the only deviation being that the party pretends to be representative of the people and the dictator allegedly elected by that political body.

    I would not say "never" in regards to Romney, though I agree it is a long shot and will require a major shift in the general paradigm about Mormons. At one time, people said there was no way that a black man would be elected president, just as some say no woman will ever be elected president. We can no longer say "never", can we?

    *You need to know what personality types might be able to lie and pass such tests.

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  9. And Rodak should try to point out just where in the Constitution the words "separation of church and state" exist. They do not.

    So what? What's your point? I'm sure that you know quite well that the phrase is simply the way that most people have always spoken of the principle that the exact words of the constitution establish. You are being disingenuous here.

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  10. He also might consider that Fascism has no specific religion nor has ever related itself to one.

    Fascist movements are, in their essence, nationalist movements. Every fascist movement, therefore, will be expressive of the primary cultural characteristics of the nation in question and use those characteristics to manipulate the masses.
    Communism, in its pure form, is anything but fascist. The primary opponents of the Nazis were the communists. It is quite true that Soviet communism morphed into a quasi-fascist system; but that is because it failed to ever establish a truly Marxist system. As a communist system it was a complete failure.
    I am not advocating communism, I am merely pointing out that your statement "Communism is a fascist system" is not accurate if the two are compared and contrasted in the abstract.
    When Eisenhower left office, he warned his successor to be on guard against the seizure of power by the "military industrial complex." He didn't want to use the word "fascist," because it would have been counter-productive to have done so; people would have stopped listening; but fascist is exactly what he meant. In America, the hot-button issues that appeal to religious conservatives are the issues being that are currently being used by the so-called "neocons" to persuade the middle- and lower-class majority in this country to vote for candidates who do not represent their optimal economic interests. The shorthand for this is, as you know, "Gays, guns, and God." This is already a kind of intellectual fascism, in that the propaganda is utterly cynical. The powers financing the conservative political machine have no sincere interest in any of those issues: they only want the votes.
    By constrast, liberal politicians, when they are successful in achieving high office, actually do attempt to provide the people who voted for them with those things that they promised to provide: they are sincere in stating their agendas.

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  11. "It may be that those groups, being strongly religious, see the Republicans as being closer to their core values than Democrats." This is more nearly the case. At least this is the common understanding. Religious people tend to be more conservation and patriotic as well as more self- reliant and distrusting of the dictates of civil governments. Democrats are traditionally all about more civil government power.


    There is so much misunderstanding of the church state relationship. If you will read the Constitution it says that the government will not set up a State Religion over the people. And this came about because the Anglican Church was the State/government/king's religion in England. All others were persecuted to some extent with every change of government or kings. It goes back to Henry the VIII (1500's) when he wanted to divorce Catherine (wife #1) and the Catholic Church (Pope) would not allow it. So having the hots for Anne Boleyn he ended up leaving the Catholic Church and starting the Anglican (Protestant) church which gave him the right to divorce his wife because it was his church. He then persecuted Catholics. His daughter Mary went back to Catholicism and persecuted Protestants (recall Bloody Mary). Henry's daughter Elizabeth was cool and played it by ear persecuted no one in particular. The Cromwellian's persecuted Catholics heavily as well as the Huguenots. These were all State Religions or religions sanctioned by the state. That is exactly what the Constitution ruled against a religion set up by the state. It says nothing about "separation of church and state". In fact the Founding Father's themselves did not separate their religion and belief in God from their state or government dealings. They prayed often for guidance from God during their deliberations and always before voting on a bill. And so did the early Congress's. Check this out in Congressional history. It wasn't a requirement that a prayer be said, but it was often requested by the Congressmen. Separation of church and state is a 20th century invention brought about mainly by atheist. BB

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  12. I'm sorry, Rodak, you are blinded by your ideology. People did not always view the separation of church and state as you do. It was not until the mid 60s that that interpretation was adopted by the courts. It is still not a popular position. Brenda has it right, in my opinion, the concept of the Founders was "no state religion".
    And I have heard all the excuses about why "pure communism" has not been tried. It won't ever be since it is completely against human nature. The Soviet Union is exactly what happens when communism is tried on a nation al scale. Human nature, in the form of a desire for power and control, will always subvert it. And I, for one, am glad of that.

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  13. "It may be that those groups, being strongly religious, see the Republicans as being closer to their core values than Democrats." This is more nearly the case. At least this is the common understanding. Religious people tend to be more conservation and patriotic as well as more self- reliant and distrusting of the dictates of civil governments. Democrats are traditionally all about more civil government power.


    There is so much misunderstanding of the church state relationship. If you will read the Constitution it says that the government will not set up a State Religion over the people. And this came about because the Anglican Church was the State/government/king's religion in England. All others were persecuted to some extent with every change of government or kings. It goes back to Henry the VIII (1500's) when he wanted to divorce Catherine (wife #1) and the Catholic Church (Pope) would not allow it. So having the hots for Anne Boleyn he ended up leaving the Catholic Church and starting the Anglican (Protestant) church which gave him the right to divorce his wife because it was his church. He then persecuted Catholics. His daughter Mary went back to Catholicism and persecuted Protestants (recall Bloody Mary). Henry's daughter Elizabeth was cool and played it by ear persecuted no one in particular. The Cromwellian's persecuted Catholics heavily as well as the Huguenots. These were all State Religions or religions sanctioned by the state. That is exactly what the Constitution ruled against a religion set up by the state. It says nothing about "separation of church and state". In fact the Founding Father's themselves did not separate their religion and belief in God from their state or government dealings. They prayed often for guidance from God during their deliberations and always before voting on a bill. And so did the early Congress's. Check this out in Congressional history. It wasn't a requirement that a prayer be said, but it was often requested by the Congressmen. Separation of church and state is a 20th century invention brought about mainly by atheist. BB

    ReplyDelete

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