Church As State

One of the electronic publications I receive regularly is Sightings, a newsletter founded by Martin Marty and issued by the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. (Since it is a newsletter, I don’t have a link.) The publication comments on the role of religion in contemporary society, usually in the form of an essay by one of the Divinity School’s scholars.

A recent commentary began with a reference to a 1940 memorandum by a Dutch Protestant ecumenist named Willem Visser‘t Hooft, titled “The Ecumenical Church and the International Situation.” Visser’t Hooft warned that  a “new ideological battle” was unfolding across the western world, “waged by proponents of the ‘new religions’ of ethno-nationalism and fascism.” He worried that when the war ended, “the real difficulty will be to find any basis for collaboration between peoples who no longer share any common standards, and who no longer speak the same spiritual language.”

Visser’t Hooft was on to something: the post-war world continues to grapple with that lack of a common “spiritual” or ideological language, and with the nationalistic “religions” he identified and aptly characterized as politicized distortions of Christianity.

Adherents of these movements claimed to be the true Christians who were defending “traditional” Christianity against the existential threats of liberalism, modernity and internationalism (usually embodied in their fevered imagination by “the Jews.”) One scholar of the era described Nazism as “an ethno-nationalist renewal movement on a Christian, moral foundation.”

It wasn’t only in Europe. As the Sightings essay reminded us, the Nazis and fascists had kindred spirits in the United States.

There was a revival of the Ku Klux Klan during the 1920s, and the number of Christian right-wing groups surged after 1933. During the 1930s the Nazi regime even sent its Christian supporters on speaking tours to American churches. While Christian nationalism was surging in interwar Europe, American Protestantism was in the throes of the fundamentalism wars, the Scopes trial, and the Temperance movement. And on both sides of the Atlantic, progressive religious movements arose to combat them, including liberal Protestant ecumenism and the emerging interfaith movement.

The author of the essay noted that the United States’ current culture wars are a continuation of that fight.

Religion wasn’t–and isn’t– the only cause of political division, but it was–and is– a significant contributor. The author of the essay says there are two important lessons to be learned from the relevant history: first, “the deadliest failures of Christianity (like the Inquisition, the Crusades, and the complicity of Christian churches with National Socialism and the Holocaust) derive from the fatal alliance of faith and political power.”

In addition to the crimes facilitated by such alliances, they inevitably destroy the integrity and witness of the church.. 

The second lesson is that the foundation for recovering “common standards” and speaking the “same spiritual language” must be a civic process, not a religious one.

As I read this very thought-provoking essay, I thought back to a conclusion I had come to back in the days of the Cold War, when “godless Communism” was a genuine threat both to the West and to human liberty. Belief in that system, I concluded, was a religion, if you define religion as an overarching belief system that delivers both “answers” to the ambiguities of life and prescriptions for human behavior.

Many years later, I read–and was persuaded by–Robert Bellah’s theory of civic religion, a secular allegiance to certain fundamental beliefs, values, holidays, and rituals, drawn in the United States from the Declaration of Independence, the  Constitution and Bill of Rights. That “civic religion” can serve as an umbrella set of beliefs, not displacing but bridging the myriad religions or other “isms” held by individual citizens in our polyglot society, and acting as a common language and set of behavioral/social/political norms.

Of course, allegiance to the ideals of those civic documents requires a common knowledge of their contents and a common understanding of the context within which they were developed. When civic literacy is rare, and especially when citizens are unaware of the compelling reasons for keeping church and state separate, we risk replaying the most horrific chapters of human history.

40 thoughts on “Church As State

  1. In the GOP primary this past June, one of the most toxic individuals was Micah Beckwith, a preached at a church (or two?) in Boone/Hamilton counties. He stated bluntly that only Christians can be moral . He usually speaks to his cell phone as he drives around. In one he said (I’ll paraphrase) agnostics, atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims – none can be moral because only if a person’s beliefs are founded in what Micah believes can a person be moral. By extensions, because he is a dominionist, ultimately only those who believe as he believes have rights because anyone else cannot be moral. He accepted my challenge to a debate then chickened out. These people are out there and they’re very scary. btw, my challenge to debate still is open.

  2. Sorry, but my eyes rolled at this tidbit, “true Christians.”

    Is that Catholicism? If not, then which one of the 2,400 plus denominations of the protestant Christian faith is true.

    Furthermore, there are many texts held in Rome that have not been included in the WORD.

    The term God is used by man to describe the creator of all things living because a finite man cannot have THE perspective of an infinite world.

    This is why our creators (the Founders) created a secular or neutral government.

    In 2020, we still have Americans who believe that our constitution was formed as a Christian nation. Who or where did that come from? Are pastors making that claim? Are schools making that claim?

    We’ve already dispelled this myth about the separation of church and state. I can be a moral man without having any faith whatsoever in God. I can also be a Christian man and be one of the worst scoundrels you’ve ever met. Still, I’ve seen social media posts by well-meaning individuals who claim our country has been problematic ever since we took God out of the schools.

    One of my favorite assignments in graduate school was approaching the statement, “Adolph Hitler was a great leader of Germany.”

  3. Theresa Bowers; ditto!

    ” When civic literacy is rare, and especially when citizens are unaware of the compelling reasons for keeping church and state separate, we risk replaying the most horrific chapters of human history.”

    And the election of Joe Biden as President and Kamala Harris as Vice President is merely a figurehead government unless and until we can rid or overrule the administration and Congress of those in both parties who are sitting mute and idle as Trump’s support system remains in place.

  4. Religion has always been used as a reason for war by cynical leaders whose true goals are power and money. Hand a guy a rifle and ask him to go fight so you can have money or power and he will likely refuse. Hand a guy a rifle and point to the enemy of his god and he will gladly take up arms and lay down his life to defeat that enemy.

  5. I have long said that when an ideology becomes more important than the people it affects is where the heart of true evil lies. It can be any ideology, religion, capitalism, communism, the state.
    There is a lovely meme I’ve seen where Jesus is talking to a group of Evangelicals and he says, “The problem is you use the Bible to determine who to love. I use love to interpret what the Bible means.”
    The biggest issue I see with Theocracies or any ideology taken to extreme is that they teach obedience over morality. If what you are asked to obey is moral, great, and often is. But, if what you are to obey is immoral then it is done with the power of Gad and the State, and it always crosses that line eventually.

  6. Mark Small, your way is, I think, the only way to change hearts and minds if it’s possible. People gravitate toward a church that reaffirms what they believe and many people have a very small circle of “caring”. I don’t think teaching civics, although I’m in complete favor if it, will change a thing. But if a preacher can be turned from their narrow minded definition of Christianity, or maybe a few congregants, perhaps there is hope.
    I am not a participant but I know there are groups here in Bloomington devoted to talk among the various religious entities. Noah’s Ark may be one.

  7. ” When civic literacy is rare, and especially when citizens are unaware of the compelling reasons for keeping church and state separate, we risk replaying the most horrific chapters of human history.”

    Yes, there is a need to promote civic literacy. Three questions immediately come to mind.
    1. What should be taught? (Trump called for “Patriotic Education” to defend against indoctrinations from the Left.).
    2. How to teach it. (Through public schools, in private schools, state mandated curriculum)
    3. Who schould teach it?

  8. Political leaders and would be leaders have for centuries wrapped themselves up in the religion of the day to cement obedience from the masses. If you look at the edifices from ancient times up until modern times palaces, castles and churches were built on a grand scale.

    Since Raygun’s embrace of the Evangelicals and others that adhere to a Male-Macho-Authoritarian religion – We have steadily allowed the bible thumper’s to if not control at the very least influence politics.

    Con-man and religious charlatans are welcomed as spokespersons for God and taken seriously.

  9. Yeah, nah, won’t work!

    I’m glad you brought this up Sheila because if it would’ve been me, either it would’ve been ignored completely or certain individuals would’ve been howling to the moon over it! So I guess it’s probably not the message, it’s the messenger, LOL!

    There absolutely has to be a separation between church and state! Between religious and secular beliefs!

    If, you make secular society or secular government a religious type of entity, you going to have the same fanaticism that will accomplish the same goals as those who use religion as a vehicle to promote some bizarre framework to run roughshod over those deemed lesser.

    When you have over 4000 different religions around the world, and close to 7000 languages spoken, is going to be difficult to find a common bond!

    Are we looking for some sort of societal cohesiveness in this country alone? Or we looking to find a cohesiveness between countries? Maybe between the United States and Russia? Of course they don’t speak English and their base religion is Russian Orthodox! United States and China? Well they speak several different dialects of Mandarin and its offshoots, and also many different religions based off of Buddhism! How about the United States and Saudi Arabia or any other country in the Middle East? They definitely don’t speak English as a native language, and Islam including all of its complexity between its internal struggles numbers well over 1 billion! And of course the United States any other Christian founded country in which we might share language or certain ideals, there are approximately 2 1/2 billion adherents that include endless denominations and beliefs concerning Christianity!

    You will never have people agree on one type of government, and you will never have people agree on one type of religion! There is no cohesiveness in the human condition. And, as I brought out in several comments over the past year and a half or so, politicians who claim to be secularist, use religion as a manipulative tool in an attempt to steer people in a direction they want them to go. And then you have religious leaders realizing a certain amount of power that diametrically oppose a lot of the secularist guardrails in government!

    If you are going to convert others, what better way than to have secular government as a partner! You can dictate religious ideals and dogma camouflaged as secular policy!

    Yes fascism is a religion, it was based in Protestant religion, and also white nationalism! In the late 20s and 30s, the German Bund developed in the United States, they hated Catholics, and most other religious organizations including but not limited to Jews and Islam! And, they had plenty of followers here! Of course, the Bund were also a wing of the Nazi movement in Germany!

    There is supposed to be a separation between secular government and religion for a reason! The very thing is happening right now is a prime example! So, how do you prevent politicians from becoming preachers at the pulpit? And how do you prevent preachers at the pulpit from becoming politicians?

    With the amount of languages spoken across this planet, and the amount of religions practiced, and there are some doozies, you can never have cohesion! And you can never have cohesion because those who want to rule, try to use religion, or they do use religion as a cudgel to steer it’s the civilian populace.

    The cult of Trump is a religion! Their fear of political destruction is almost like the fear of going to hell! When in fact, neither is actually true. Also the feeling of power, Trump exudes that even though he is basically a coward, his ignorant way of speaking kind of warms up that cudgel mentality against fellow citizens of different beliefs, both politically and religiously!

    The philosophical houses of the ancient world were well aware of the power of religion even though they were not religious per se at least in the modern sense of the word religion.

    It was full steam ahead concerning Christianity and Emperor Constantine because the apostles of Christ and Christ himself were both gone at the time. So, they entered into a counsel with church members to include a lot of philosophy i.e. philosophical dogma into Christianity as an example. And it worked, because that religion was a cudgel to control the Roman citizens through theocratic government until its collapse. It also created the Roman church i.e. Roman Catholic Church. But this Roman Catholic Church was unlike original Christianity, as original Christians paid their taxes, did not get involved in politics, and refused to fight in wars against their fellow man.

    Now, neutral and passive Christianity could not be! Because secular leaders needed to have its citizens fight in wars! It wasn’t good enough that they all paid their taxes, but they needed them to be involved in Rome’s political direction. Eventually, over the centuries, you had Protestants butchering Protestants, Catholics butchering Catholics, Muslims butchering Muslims, and you can kind of see the direction and how well it worked for those kings and queens which controlled large portions of the political realm at that time. But not only political, religious!

    Loving your neighbor, loving your enemy, and loving God, which was taught in Scripture and by the early Christians, just would not do! So it never was taught on the whole in Christian dogma. How can you direct someone to go to war against persons that you have loving or positive feelings for?

    In World War I, the Pope could actually have stopped the war if he told all of the Catholics to quit fighting each other! But, did the Pope do that? Well, the Pope was blessing weapons on both sides of the conflict! So what does that tell you? It was also the same during World War II! Christianity and most religions have been BASTARDIZED by man’s thirst for power. People hate religion and love politics, but politicians were the ones that made religion what it is today! And people followed along right behind that manure spreader, with their mouths wide open!

    It doesn’t take much for people to spread dogma that’s contrary to their best interests! Fanaticism is a bad word and a bad thing! But, here we are, steeped like a teabag in a pot!

    Back to early civilization, the Catholic Church claimed to go after heretics, but after Emperor Constantine and his Nicene counsel victories in around 325 A.D., heresy was not only religious but civil! So heretics could be hunted down not only by the church but by the government which was basically melded with the church. The wall between church and state was supposed to prevent state churches or a state religion, but man’s inclination would not let that, or does not let that be the case! The wall is just in the way of true and absolute power. The only thing that’s going to change is when a global resistance towards religion takes place. When governments around the world demolish religion, because religion and politics cannot inhabit the same space. And the temptation would always be, stir up people with religion and melded with politics to start a movement to keep the strongman or strong woman in power!

    You have to remember, and I challenge anyone to the contrary, every conflict in recorded history was based on religion! And, you’ve got to believe there is fanaticism at its core! Religion can be anything, because a God can be anything! A God can be money, a God can be power, a God can be an idea, a God can be a personality, a God can be hatred, many things can be a God!

    So, you can see when the demolition starts, there’s going to be a lot of consternation and what many will see is a catastrophe that will end civilization. But in actuality will change the direction of human civilization for the rest of its existence!

  10. Bill – great questions about civic literacy. It reminded me of a LTE I read over the weekend from a teacher whose students couldn’t pass the test for citizenship for immigrants….

    Whatever is taught about “civics”, it must be done in combination with critical thinking and constructive dialogue (and perhaps, mock courts).

  11. I just knew that if religion ever came up there would be a long story along with other topics.
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  12. The country isn’t going anywhere until we all get on the same page of basic fundamentals. Fundamentals like respect for the beliefs of others, respect for the rights of others, respect for majority rule, and respect for knowledge. Unfortunately we are not going to get there without leadership… real leadership, and on that front we are sorely lacking.

  13. Thanks John for that long history of the politicization of religion.

    I don’t think it is thirst for power, it’s lust for power. In the LORD OF THE RINGS,Tolkien shows how lust for power leads to the corruption of a soul. CS Lewis does it in the SCREWTAPE LETTERS. I would call lust for power a process addiction in which the leaders attempt to avoid vulnerability.

    All the classic stories about evil have the villain trying to make automatons out of people who have no free will. Just look at the Nazgul, they have no free will. Or you can look at dictators who kill those who disagree with them like Hitler.

    And Trump? Do his followers have free will or have they been brain washed by a pathological liar who has hypnotized them?

    Like all human systems, dare I say creations, religion can be used for good or evil. Atheists can be good or evil. Stalin was an atheist. Carl Sagan was an atheist who was in love with the wonders of the universe and like the Buddha he clearly understood the interdependence of all living beings. Martin Luther King was a Christian who asserted that an unjust law should not be obeyed. That’s probably why Susan B Anthony broke the law and voted.

    For me, the problem is not so much religion, per se. The problem is our fear of “the other” which is an instinctual fear. Our animal instincts, the part of our brain which evolved out of the animal kingdom, is driven by the desire to protect ourselves from injury and/or death. I think the old “lizard brain” has much more power over us than we often realize. It will use religion to quell its fears, to rationalize its lust for power. And that part of our brain worships Ares/Mars not a Creator who is a being of love and peace.

    When the power of love overcomes our lizard brain, our lust for power then perhaps we will create a world of love and peace. Then perhaps we will act like Clara Barton who nursed the wounds of both Union and Confederate soldiers. Then perhaps we will be more like Nelson Mandala or Desmond Tuto, or like Maya Angelou. Then perhaps we will choose life over death.

  14. Random thoughts:
    The scariest thing that I ever heard a so-called Christian say was that the world was filled with soulless automatons whose only purpose on earth was to try and test true Christians.

    You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Not having seen the current curriculum for the Indiana government/civics courses, I can’t speak to the content, but I do see that there is a provision for teaching it in high school. However, there are also provisions for teaching four years of English, yet many students still can’t write a decent paragraph when they arrive at college, and even more citizens still say “ain’t.”

    You can’t assume that all teachers will teach the required content when their politics or religion get in the way.

  15. When I grew up the vast majority of people went to church. Some went every day some went every year but it was considered good to be seen there even occasionally.

    For a few dollars in the plate the family could get in return equal parts of mysticism, ritual, and morality.

    Increasingly the times for that seem to be behind us.

    To me the biggest loss is in people today not ever even hearing about or thinking about moral philosophy. We rely on our social instincts and upbringing to understand how to relate to others but the motivation to relate to others constructively is internal to us right now rather than externally and after death.

    History will tell us how well that works.

  16. Per Pete on “old time religion”…”For a few dollars in the plate the family could get in return equal parts of mysticism, ritual, and morality.”

    For today’s “religion”….for a few dollars to your local cable provider, the family can get on Fox/MSNBC equal parts of mysticism, ritual, and simple answers…”

  17. Greetings Pete! Interesting last paragraph. (not sentence) What would you suggest I do when I meet with my friends? Irvin

  18. Irvin, good question. I’m a learning sponge spending retirement learning a little about lots of things to take to my grave someday so I thought of that because I have actually been trying to learn something about moral philosophy which is not a topic that I have even been interested in before. I’m amazed by the depth of thinking that has gone into that topic through the centuries. Every day I run across a new patch of ignorance and try to fill some blanks in my education.

    I think that a simple answer is to turn off the TV and socialize more with smart educated people but that’s certainly not our cultural inclination nowadays. In the absence of that there’s always our library at Alexandria, the Internet to do it alone for those inclined to learn.

    What’s your solution?

  19. Robin,
    I think you one could directly correlate thirst with lust! Because thirst, as in thirst for truth or a lust for Truth can at times mean exactly the same thing! It’s an internal drive, thirst can be quenched though, with the right conditions and right consumption, but lust cannot!

    If you are just going by scripture, the law of Christ is to love your neighbor, love god, and even love your enemy. And that was proven by the apostle Peter slicing off the ear of one of those who came to arrest Christ in the garden of gethsemane. As scripture tells it, Christ told him to put his sword away and healed the man’s ear.

    Conman and con artists are not new to The human condition there are irrefutable examples throughout history! And, The human condition will allow humanity to continue deceiving itself! Scripture also tells us that humanity was not supposed to be a bunch of automatons! That humanity was supposed to have free will! And, as we can see, free will of humanity has not made the world a better place! Because humanity is free to discriminate against itself, and free to destroy it’s home, and free to wage war on itself! All wonderful attributes I would say, right?

    With such a superior life form as humanity, you wonder where the tendency for pettiness comes in? But, here we have it, on full display in this thread. Animals aren’t petty, but the superior life form, the Apex life form on this planet is petty.

    When we correlate major conflicts and actually all conflicts in history what does that mean? Well, it means that we compare. When that comparison is made, what do we see?

    We see that a bastardized religion is at the core of every terrible thing that’s happened in history, at least that can be compared.

    Does that mean that religion is bad? Well, only the religion that has been corrupted by men, which is probably all.

    Myself, I probably have close to 40,000 study hours in history religion and politics! And, I’ve never run across a terrible, horrific and inhumane event that’s been recorded in history, that was not related to religion and politics!

    Thirst and lust our one thing Robin, but, I think more accurately it would be greed and covetousness! Because what is power without possessions? The possession of land, the possessions of wealth, the possessions of slaves, the possessions of conquered civilizations!

    Combine greed and lust with thirst and covetousness and you have a toxic fanatical antagonistic thought process that man has designed through politics and religion combined together!

    But hey, I’m just a dumb uneducated country boy that doesn’t know much, or doesn’t pay attention to anything so everyone will draw their own conclusions!

    By the way Robin excellent comment, and thank you!

  20. One of my great surprises on becoming a full-fledged atheist was that my morals, my values, and my feelings of love and empathy appeared to exceed those of many who claimed to be followers of Jesus Christ. Some of my best Christian friends have rejected me because I found fault with Trump, an embodiment of cruelty largely unparalleled in American political history. Since religion has enjoyed almost complete success in discrediting itself and in acting sublimely silly (many believe that Trump, an atheist long before I was, is a supremely religious man- their faulty antennas seem unable to detect his hypocrisy), we can now consign it to the ash heap it has so aggressively volunteered to join.

    It goes without saying that many religious people have been and are brilliant, empathetic and kind. That’s because, for 1500 years (not just the Dark Ages), if one chose not to till the fields, religion was one of the few career paths available (if you were an artist or writer for example, you stuck to religious themes). That does not mean that such people were inspired by their beliefs, but that they could recognize a market when they saw one.

    Religion transformed almost completely into politics as believers sensed Trump’s willingness to support their cause in exchange for their vote. Catholics voted on the one issue consistently dictated by Rome, and in the process probably supported a man who has paid for more than his fair share of abortions. Evangelicals voted on Trump’s assertion that he believes in the literal truth of the Bible, favors political license for Israel, and because he says he favors giving them tax money and a bigger voice in government. None of this has anything to do with the love of Jesus Christ, which was what my childhood minister preached about almost every Sunday.

    Religion has proven itself unnecessary. The glory and majesty of the universe and nature and our understanding of how they came about has rendered epistemologies based on God-like creatures obsolete. With his disappearance, we cancel the right of any person or any nation to act in homicidal ways because they spoke with God and he recommended it.

  21. So per the Dutch ecuminist we no longer speak a common spiritual language and do not abide by common standards? What else is new in democracies, and besides, we tried that fusion of religion and politics when (presumably) we did speak a common spiritual language and did agree to common standards. It was during the era of the Holy Roman Empire in Central Europe with a pope-approved Charlemagne as emperor, though one could argue that Charlemagne (Charles the Great) did not really understand the papal-approved language or standards inasmuch as he was illiterate.

    That fusion of church and state did not work well, especially for European peasants fearful of demons and an eternal blaze promised for deviants, which made them easy prey for the dictates of popes and emperors. Brought down to today, the ardent Catholic Barr seems to have some such fusion of church and state in mind but will have to abandon such a daydream now that his “Charlemagne” (Trump) is sidelined.

    I think the Dutch ecuminist himself assumes a standard and language from which to measure deviants, a standard and language that since the Enlightenment started in Florence has been flouted by free and critical thinkers, and rightly so, otherwise we in the West could still be burdened with medieval practices, religious dictatorship, slavery and other such anti-progress and anti-democratic results of church-state fusion – and it’s bad enough as it is. Ask Barry Lynn.

  22. how many poiticians hailed religion as their need to see thru,how many spoke as if the word of the bible was unique and the word of god? where did all this come from? all questions.we all go to the grave never getting the answer.. todays standards,by many who,use the phrases from the bible,readings and hope for the best from our following$,hey copeland,ya listening? people who have fear of steppin out on a saturday nite,a perfect target..religion has its goal, keep the moral act and make sure you can use it to settle disputes,and make sure its used to condem. happy thoughts? garden of eden? heaven,ones soul to be free of hatred..naw, its abook a best seller, just seems many went over board on its realities. when people were cast into their lives by a goverment,king,pharo,whatever, many never were granted the right to read,or had no clue,what reading was. when the teachings were spread around about this christ and his following,,, seems they,the ones who were supressed and relized it,they found a new way..they were reading a best seller bud.. in a world that has streached its imagination well away from being held hostage by your nation,king etc, those teaching are used like a lawyers tongue in court,to use phrase and quote,to spell out the defense,prosecution ,and judgement,used in the bible. but in real life, the seperation of church and state? there never was any..maybe the word god,and such,but all laws and morals were adapted from the bible or other such readings.. or,maybe its really human needs,whereas,, some believe it my own needs over someone elses desire. human morals, that is what has been seperated from todays life in America.. hey copeland,gotta dime?

  23. Greetings again Pete. Thank you for the response . I have no solutions. Today’s topic and the responses overwhelmed me. 🙂 Irvin

  24. It seems that the real issue these days is, can as many people learn real morality if it’s separated from the mysticism of religion as when the two are tied together?

    The magic word in my vocabulary is collaboration as the basic wisdom of morality. In my experience that works broadly in every situation and it’s not easy. It requires patience and respect for other people and view points and ability to debate open mindedly and effectively and to compromise as the closest it’s sometimes possible to get to agreement on actions.

    Like with most morality I believe that I actually live that way occasionally but fail to as often.

    Where did I learn that? For me it doesn’t seem to be from Sunday School or church or the Bible but more from observing those I was born close to as I studied to become an adult.

    But, who knows?!

  25. Good points Jack,

    I would venture to say that hypocrisy runs rampant not only in politics but in religion because it’s almost the same thing. Many things that we consider moral were written in Scripture first!

    take care of the widow, take care of the fatherless child, do not discriminate against the foreign resident, be your brother’s keeper, be the good samaritan, do not glean your Fields completely but leave enough for the less fortunate, love your neighbor as yourself, love your god, love your enemy, assist your enemy in times of hardship, these things are supposed to be human qualities, but these human qualities are not shown much today! Because people have become disenchanted with religion and politics in general.

    I find it fascinating looking at some of the venom and vitriol against religion, but very few people are familiar with scripture, some have never picked up a bible, and some have never read much in it. Now, I’ve read it at least 10 times! And every time I read it I see something that I’ve missed. But, I’m not like a lot of folks, I try to do my research! But, I think mostly I’m like a lot of the women in my family! Because in my family I’m one of the few males! And, all the women in my family were activists. And one thing it taught me is not to worry about what someone else thinks, but to research and come to your own conclusions!

    Sadly Jack, there are many that are too lazy to reach their own conclusions and would rather Glom onto conclusions that have been provided by who knows who!

    I sit here popping my morphine tablets and staring at my stapled shut leg and reflecting on life itself!

    The funny thing is, people Roil against God which they really don’t know anything about, but hold up humanity as some sort of pinnacle. And, the only thing humanity has done throughout recorded history was to murder itself, to destroy its home, to act like a creature with an an automaton like dronish existence, doing the same thing over and over again. So, who’s really stupid? God? Or humankind? At least if you throw God into the equation, it can give people a certain amount of deniability, but if God is not in the equation, that in itself speaks volumes! Volumes against the survivability and rationality of humankind.

    kind of like floating in a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean, you are cold, and you are hungry! So, you decide to start a fire by hacking Holes in The floor of your boat for kindling! Well, now you’re not only cold, you’re wet because your boat sunk. You’ve just killed yourself! Like I said, humanity does the same thing over and over, the end result will be extinction.

  26. Theresa; again I agree with your comments today but…we must begin with self respect to understand the value and strength of respect for others to successfully lead. The current administration controls, it does not lead. And they shows no sign of self respect with their support of Trump’s and McConnell’s destruction of democracy, Rule of Law and refusing to uphold the Constitution.

    They will probably prove in Georgia that the new “Golden Rule’; he who has the gold rules, will continue their rule over the Senate. Hopefully we have killed that snake by cutting off the head. Only time will tell; and four years is a short time to undo the damage to religion as well as the government during the past four years of cold Civil War.

    John; your lengthy comments and opinions by sermonizing and Biblical quotes to prove your points are keeping “Church As State” by repeatedly forcing religion into political issues.

  27. Three quick points: 1) Lenny Bruce said he wasn’t hassled by the authorities until he started doing bits about religion. (“Religions, Incorporated” I think was one bit, and “Thank you, Masked Man” was another.) 2) There are born-agains who, when you discuss religious freedom, reply with a variation of “But I don’t believe in a religion” as though others’ beliefs are of a lesser level (and thus entitled to fewer or no protections). 3) Joan White: thanks, I try.

  28. Lol, JoAnn

    Wasn’t that the point of the thread to begin with?

    You see, my point was made exactly as I said it would! It’s not the message it’s the messenger!

    Were you complaining about the length of Sheila’s blog post today? I didn’t see that. And, another individual who loves to snidely sneak in digs which shows and proves my point exactly!

    No one is sermonizing anything, it’s a comparison! And, if one were to do research, and one were to write a paper on that research, would it be acceptable in 250 words or less?

    I don’t know, I’m wondering a little bit about how much people are willing to pound out their differences, or are willing to continue pounding a splitting Mall wedge into society!

    If you claim not to believe something “cuz” then that particular opinion is going to be laughed out of Dodge. You need the Where’s when’s why’s and how’s JoAnn🤔

    If, religion is so terrible, and it’s the enemy, then one should know it! If one doesn’t know what the enemy is, then you’re flailing like a drowning pigeon!

    Politicians, preachers, agnostics, atheists, can all be hypocrites! It’s an equal opportunity condition!

  29. Mark, I hope you get the chance to debate the clown.
    When one starts out with a perspective wedded to a fairy tale anything is possible. And those coming from that place will claim virtually anything to be factual. A pastor recently claimed that his god-thing gave humans noses, because “God knew that they would need eyeglasses.”
    So, to believe in the idea of a “Church as State” country is to mix delusion with governance, IMHO.

  30. I grow weary of John’s church as state ramblings, too.
    Always with the “Scripture, as if there were only one.
    John should go to youtube and type in Matt Dillahunty.
    Might neutralize some of that 40,000 hours of confirmation bias.
    I prefer psychology=>sociology over religious blather.
    The reason?
    Reason.
    Evidence.
    Shareability.

  31. Ormond,
    Lol, Thou dost protest too much! And that speaks volumes. 😱🤣

    I wasn’t the one that chose this topic today, so I would imagine you should address your faux indignation with Professor kennedy!

    I can’t help your lacking education! And why you would make your comments personal when I have not made mine personal! So, I would suggest you get your own mind right!

    I don’t mind a good debate, because I can debate with anyone! But if it’s going to turn into an insult fest, Sheila is not going to appreciate it and suffice it to say a little angry 😱 so I would suggest you leave it alone unless you have some intellectual Epiphany you would like to share with me.

    I believe debate was supposed to be the point of this thread today! But obviously you didn’t peruse it.

  32. No, John, it wasn’t the length of Sheila’s blog I was referring to. You appear to be so deeply embedded in your religion that you don’t realize it permeates YOUR lengthy soliloquies. And please; your comment “It’s not the message it’s the messenger!” Is Marv’s line of defense regarding John Grisham’s book “The Chamber” which is not filled with veiled threats against him personally

    Your response to Ormand at 4:09; “I wasn’t the one that chose this topic today, so I would imagine you should address your faux indignation with Professor kennedy!” shows you missed the meaning of my comments regarding your repeatedly forcing religion into political issues and the basis of Ormand’s

    Irvin; thank you!

  33. My opinion about John’s contributions is to object only to their length which is often longer than my attention span. When that gets in my way I just stop reading.

    As far as his personal motivation towards moral living is concerned, it’s not mine but if it’s comfortable to him what business is that of mine?

    As far as honoring mysticism is concerned none of us know the whole truth and nothing but so we have to assume something and believe in it.

    I have always believed that there’s something to be learned from all religions but I don’t accept that any of them contain the whole truth.

    My personal religion is science which offers miraculous explanations for what we do understand and frank admission about what we haven’t been able to learn yet.

    My bottom line here at Sheila’s place is to honor the diversity including John and jack smith and Marvin and Sheila and all of the rest of you. I don’t agree with any of you totally but I believe in all of you.

    It’s become one of my reliable learning places.

  34. Pete,
    Well now that was an intellectual statement!

    For most people, there is knowledge that can be gleaned from debate. Some, always want to complain and demonize and that shows an extreme lack of intellect!

    If someone doesn’t like something very much, then wouldn’t it be best to learn as much about it as possible?

    I see that you feel the same way!

    My opinions concerning the State of affairs we are in right now, and the religious aspect to it are my own of course, but at least I try and educate myself to the opinions of those individuals. And, I try not to throw out the baby with the bath water!

    But, it seems that ignorance is preferable over knowledge to some, and, with that sort of mentality, nothing will ever change!

  35. John Sorg I reply to this perhaps a bit late, given that this thread was bumped for Professor Kennedy’s latest. I agree with much of what you say about religion, but think that usually your comments are too long. I am limited in time available to review blogs, work on matters for my job, and try to blog myself. My criticism is not personal, but polite and meant to be constructive. How you perceive it is your right.

  36. When I was a child, I tried to convince my best friend to attend my church. They were a wonderful family with a high moral standard, but they just weren’t religious. Another classmate who was very deceitful never missed a Sunday at her particular church. I knew even in 3rd grade that non-religious people can be very moral and supposedly very religious people could be ungodly.

    I’ve attended church and been active in church activities all my life, but that grade school experience taught me that Godliness is in the eye of the beholder. Intolerance and judgementalism are very unchristian, yet those who are the most judgemental present themselves as the only true Christians.

    I think it was Jimmy Carter who once complained to Golda Meir about zealous, religious fundamentalists in the U.S. and how fanaticism complicated governing. Meir responded that she had the same problem in Israel.

    It’s been said many times before and remains sadly true. It’s nearly impossible to reach agreements and solutions on problems or even side-by-side civility if one side sees differing perspectives as heresy which dooms their philosophical opponents to hell.

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