How to destroy religious freedom

penceOriginally, ‘States Rights’ was a dry Constitutional premise explaining the shape of our federal system. After long misuse as a political subterfuge it has been redefined as a byword for racial discrimination.

‘Patriot’ was once among the highest complements we might pay to a distinguished citizen who had sacrificed deeply for our nation. Like ‘hero,’ it was a term one would seldom dare apply to oneself. Increasingly, in common usage, a ‘patriot’ is a paranoid gun fetishist with a stockpile of preserved food in his trailer who probably won’t blow up a federal building, but you can’t be too sure.

‘States’ rights’ is an arcane legal principle whose importance is largely technical. Patriot was a great word, but perhaps we can coin new terms to take its place. Religious freedom is a concept so central to the meaning of the Republic that it was enshrined in the first sentence of the first amendment to our Constitution. Some of us, particularly in the Republican Party, are determined to make religious freedom an excuse for imposing miserable oppression and harassment on a group of people they choose not to understand. Perhaps the only way to destroy religious freedom in America is to convert the term into a dog-whistle used to rally bigots. Please, please do not do this.

Our country is slowly emerging from a bitter, 60-year fight to grant equal treatment under the law to all Americans regardless of the conditions of their birth. Christians played a critical role in that movement for freedom. Unfortunately, other Christians played an equally critical and passionate role in opposing that movement at every stage. They haven’t quit.

Today’s Christian fundamentalists have inherited a political infrastructure that was originally constructed to protect white supremacy. In the 1950’s, as a Christian minister named Martin Luther King, Jr was organizing a movement for civil rights, other Christian ministers mobilized to stop him.

Jerry Falwell expressed the sentiment of religious conservatives with a bitter sermon in 1958. Regarding the Supreme Court’s decision striking down school segregation, Falwell explained: “If Chief Justice Warren and his associates had known God’s word and had desired to do the Lord’s will, I am quite confident that the 1954 decision would never have been made…The facilities should be separate. When God has drawn a line of distinction, we should not attempt to cross that line…The true Negro does not want integration…. He realizes his potential is far better among his own race.”

The same institutions that found themselves on the wrong side of Jim Crow, women’s rights, school desegregation, and just about every major liberty interest of the last century are trying to redefine religious liberty for our time. We cannot let them do this.

Religious fundamentalists fail to recognize that the same underlying attitudes that put them on the wrong side of the civil rights debate continue to skew their positions on everything else. At the heart of religious fundamentalism, whether the believer is Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist or Jedi, are these two ideas:

1) The culture I have inherited comes from sacred, revealed truth and is the only way to live righteously.

2) Nothing I discover, learn or observe about the world must be allowed to modify the assumptions of that culture in any manner.

Those are the beliefs that leave fundamentalists in constant tension with scientists and in persistence denial of the natural world. Those are the two beliefs that put Southern Baptists, for example, so consistently on the wrong side of the movement to free African Americans first from slavery and then from Jim Crow.

Long after those battles were decisively lost, the denomination apologized for their positions, but they refuse to re-examine the assumptions that gave rise to those positions. Today’s policy positions are tomorrow’s embarrassing public relations challenges. An ounce of humility might avoid this cycle.

You won’t find Jerry Falwell’s 1958 sermon on white supremacy in the extensive archives at Liberty University. Almost all of his materials from earlier than the mid-60’s were recalled from the collection. Falwell’s statements on white supremacy were so glaringly wrong that merely acknowledging them today would be ruinous to the school’s already tenuous brand.

Why don’t we just decide to stop embarrassing ourselves?

To my readers who insist that their ability to humiliate homosexuals is an irreplaceable tenet of faithful Christian observance I make this appeal. Sit down this weekend and read the words of Jesus. Take time to read all four Gospels. Pay special attention to the “red-lettered’ texts. Please right down every word the Gospel writers claim Jesus spoke regarding homosexuality.

At the end of the exercise, let that empty page remind you that you are hauntingly alone in your pursuit of this phony issue. That’s how much divine backing you bring to an effort to smear Christianity with your cultural baggage.

We often remark that the separation of church and state is as much a protection of religion as a protection from religion. Damage inflicted on Christianity by fundamentalists’ long, losing battle for political control is further evidence for this conviction.

Now, in the late stages of the fight for basic civil rights in America, we have a waning opportunity to define for history what Christianity meant to the movement. Religious fundamentalists are determined to define Christian faith and practice in a manner that sets it irrevocably at odds with basic human liberty. They are campaigning to define “religious freedom” as “state-enforced Christian cultural supremacy.”

Republicans should not help fundamentalists strip the gravity from the term “religious freedom.” We need not become the subject of our grand-children’s’ apologies.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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Posted in Civil Rights, Religion, Religious Right
267 comments on “How to destroy religious freedom
  1. 1mime says:

    On topic, Politico has an interesting article on a figure, Rev. James Fifeld, Jr, examining his arguments in the 40s and 50s linking capitalism and religion and his nascent effort to co-opt business interest. Flash forward to today……

    “… a movement that would advance over the 1940s and early 1950s a new blend of conservative religion, economics and politics that one observer aptly anointed “Christian libertarianism.” Fifield and like-minded ministers saw Christianity and capitalism as inextricably intertwined, and argued that spreading the gospel of one required spreading the gospel of the other. The two systems had been linked before, of course, but always in terms of their shared social characteristics. Fifield’s innovation was his insistence that Christianity and capitalism were political soul mates, first and foremost.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/04/corporate-america-invented-religious-right-conservative-roosevelt-princeton-117030.html#ixzz3XbRjnkM4

    • RobA says:

      They didn’t really do a great job I’m the article explaining what the law actually does, mostly just what some people fear it might do.

      Anyone have the Coles notes on that? I didn’t see a clear connection between sharia law and the law in question.

      One thing I DO now is that if you made a list of places least at risk of falling under Sharia Law, Idaho would score highly.

      It seems Sharia Law is the new Satanic Cult panic. There is literally zero chance of any enforceable Sharia Law court being established anywhere in America.

      Might a few devoted Muslim communities gather in secret and agree to form a “court” and abide by the decisions of the elder? Sure. But that would require the full consent of everyone involved, as any judgment would have absolutely no standing legally and as such, any “verdicts” from said court would be voluntary by all parties.

      And frankly, if small tight knit communities form together to settle small disputes locally instead of clogging up the official courts system, I really can’t find too much to be upset about, regardless of what they want to call it.

      As long as all participation is voluntary and no one feels coerced to participate, it’s none of the government’s business.

      • Crogged says:

        All are in consent, except for the teenager executed for disobeying his parents. We don’t need to further atomize our society because of where ‘respect’ for religions takes us.

      • 1mime says:

        Sharia law expansion in the U.S. doesn’t concern me nearly as much as the radical right. The SPLC Report, Spring 2015 (So. Poverty Law Center), reports (in the U.S.) the number of extremist groups fell by about a fifth in 2014; however, online networks like Stormfront – the leading neo-Nazi forum, has about 300,000 registered users, a nearly 60% increase in the last five years.

        Per Mark Potok, senior fellow with SPLC, “It appears that extremists are leaving tghese groups for the anonymity opf the internet, which allows their message to reach a huge audience. Domestic terrorists and other extremists with crfiminal intentions are also increasingly acting alone, choosing to commit lethal attacks without the help of an organized group….’Lone Wolf Attacks’ – which are the hardest to penetrate and the most likely to succeed.”

        A list of hate groups and an interactive map whowing their names, types and locations in the U.S. can be viewed in the report below.

        (Intelligence Report) http://www.splcenter.org

  2. Turtles Run says:

    Severely OT

    For the nerds here

  3. johngalt says:

    The GOP effort to appeal to voters who are not older white Christians is a bumpy road:
    http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_27920808/western-conservative-summit-creates-firestorm-gay-disinvite

    • 1mime says:

      Gay Log Cabin Republicans are either the most patient or most naive group out there. They seem unable to grasp that the Republican Party really doesn’t want them in their tent.

  4. flypusher says:

    Something on the original topic- some wisdom from St. Augustine:

    “Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field in which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although “they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.”

    Augustine’s motives are pretty clear; he wants converts, and he understands that he needs to sell his ideas intelligently. Whoever decides that you can’t be a proper Christian unless you also believe that stories like Noah’s flood are 100% literally true has weighted down the faith with very unnecessary and useless baggage. Parables and analogies were good enough for Jesus. Why aren’t they good enough for those who claim to follow him?

    • fiftyohm says:

      FP – So you take out the Noah thing. Well, then there’s that silly Jonah thing. Get rid of that. Oh oh! What about burning bush, turning people into salt, etc? Tell you what – better dump the entire Old Testament.

      Well, then there’s the whole vicarious third-party absolution deal. That’s stupid, so you dump that. Who wants to deal with a jealous god? Well, there go a couple of commandments. Original sin is a sick and twisted concept too. Dump it. And let’s face it – the very idea that an all-powerful being would have to send his “son” to earth to be tortured and murdered to “take away the sins of the world”, is just preposterous on its face, isn’t it? OK, the Christ myth is out ta here.

      Well crap! There’s nothing left! Oh well. Next!

      • flypusher says:

        Thomas Jefferson did that once, with a razor IIRC. He probably would have loved word processing software. When he was done, there was some good advice left. The Great Commandment is all that’s truly essential, IMO.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Hey! TJ was a Christian! Wasn’t he…?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I am all for simplification. But never underestimate the power of narrative and mythology.

      • johngalt says:

        Fifty hit upon Augustine’s slippery slope. Of course we don’t believe the literal interpretation of the 6 days to creation, or the flood, or Jonah, because those are clearly allegories so that would be crazy. But Jesus really was the son of God and did all those miracles and rose from the dead and – you can take that to the bank. If Augustine couldn’t figure out where that line lies, then Rand Paul hasn’t the (proverbial) snowball’s chance.

        Fantastic passage, Fly – I hadn’t seen it before.

      • flypusher says:

        The way I see it, there are claims you can test with the scientific method, and claims you can’t. The Great Flood myth is a prime example of the former. Catastrophic events leave scars. There are testable predictions one can make concerning the effects of a global flood. But a human dying, being ressurected, then ascending straight to heaven 40 days later? What mark would that leave to be found 2000 years later? Yep, all the claims are fantastic. But sticking to claims that can’t be tested is a safer bet.

      • fiftyohm says:

        FP – That seems pretty arbitrary to me.

      • flypusher says:

        50, it’s the dividing line between knowing and believing. I personally would rather know than believe, and you’re in the same camp. I understand that many people take comfort in believing, and they are welcome to it as long as they leave people like us alone. But their track record on that has been pretty lousy, so I am quite grateful for the 1st Amendment and the separation of church and state.

      • 1mime says:

        AMEN to separation of church and state, knowing vs believing and respecting the choice. Some are moving away from this idea, however, as the less tolerant seek to merge politics with religion.

      • fiftyohm says:

        This business about “respecting” a belief is nonsense. Respect is a thing earned with effort and insight, and skill. I do not ” respect” religious beliefs.

        I think the word you were looking for is “tolerate”. As FP said, I’m all down with that – so long as they stay out of my $hit.

    • Crogged says:

      I’m with Fitty on all this-and it took a lifetime. Personally and psychologically, I’m scared, the dread, the fear of what makes me conscious is beyond explanation. But the Bible and the Koran and Vonnegut are truths without facts, myth and story. To ancient stories from the cradle of civilization (or, not Mayan nor Asian as opposed to a ‘cradle’) the Greeks added ‘logos’, which led to many monks writing endless Aristotelian logical structures ‘proving’ the existence of a God, because they didn’t know why there was a sun and a moon. Are our laws, myths and stories made for humans or by humans–I’m in the latter category.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Crogged, the Fear Factor keeps cropping up in your recent posts. I’m surprised, because you strike me as so laid back.

      • Crogged says:

        When you take young humans and tell them on more than one occasion (per week) that they are sinners and loved by a father who kills his children, well, I think that’s more baffling than quantum mechanics………

      • easyfortytwo says:

        “Are our laws, myths and stories made for humans or by humans…”

        Both.

      • Crogged says:

        I’ve made fun of depending on the wisdom of pre-Industrial Revolution French guys for current political thought, but the Montaigne dude is pretty hip.

        “Can any thing be imagined so ridiculous, that this miserable and wretched creature, WHO IS NOT SO MUCH AS MASTER OF HIMSELF, but subject to the injuries of all things, should call himself master and emperor of the world, of which he has not power to know the least part, much less to command the whole?”

        As Fitty so ably set out, we now know the least part and the least not part, it makes sense of the entirety of the universe we find ourselves in, mathematically and logically proven fact. But we believe what we want, forever and ever, amen.

    • RobA says:

      Johngalt – I’m curious about why one can take to the bank the fact that Jesus is th son of God and rose from the dead?

      It is wholly dependent on belief, just like all the other clearly allegorical stories. There is literally as much proof as that as there is that Santa Claus exists.

      I do find it odd how God decided to seriously cut down on the explicit miracles once humans started getting better at record keeping. A cynic might think that just maybe they never really happened at all.

      Personally, I never knew emotional and spiritual freedom or peace until I grew up and rejected theocracy. Growing up as a curuous and rebellious kid in a religious household was a nightmare. I “knew” I was not living the “proper” life and I would lie awake many nights in fear that I would die before I could get forgiveness for whatever sin I had commited most recently, terrified of going to some eternal hell just because God decided I wasn’t worthy or I didn’t love him enough (interesting isn’t it that the most perfect, power and all knowing being has the emotional maturity of a petulant 5 year old child?).

      I was terrified if my parents were 20 minutes late because I thought maybe the rapture happened and I was left behind.

      That’s no way to raise children.

      The fact us, the God of the Old Testament is a horrific and vengeful creature, and we should all be very grateful that he doesn’t actually exist.

      It was among the best revelations of my life when I realized around the age of 20 that I was lied to my whole life.

      And frankly, it has only increased my awe and appreciation if life, nature, and the human condition.

      • johngalt says:

        I was trying (badly, it appears) to illustrate the basic inconsistency of religion. The bible tells fantastical stories – those with non-fundamentalist religious beliefs take some of them as allegories and some as the gospel (pun intended) truth. They often do not recognize that their arbitrary distinctions casts the entire belief system in doubt.

      • johngalt says:

        From a theological point of view, the literal interpretation of a sacred text is far more consistent than a more liberal one. From a reality point of view literal interpretation is, of course, ridiculous.

      • Crogged says:

        And it appears the same hair splitting, arbitrary decision process occurs across the aisle. Astronomy-that’s ok, just describes the beauty of the firmament, and chemistry and physics, they’re ok, more descriptions of the intricacy of creation. But evolutionary biology, it contradicts Genesis, so let’s just ignore and demonize it, just a ‘theory’…………..

  5. RobA says:

    The lower class republicans existential dilemma : how to square an irrational hatred of Obama with the need to keep the ACA alive.

    http://www.salon.com/2015/04/15/tea_party_patriot_has_no_choice_but_to_vote_for_hillary_in_2016_because_he_needs_his_obamacare/

    Republicans are hell bent against “government handouts”…..until it’s them on the receiveing end.

    • 1mime says:

      Rob, don’t forget that SCOTUS is gonna weigh in on the ACA. Yep, can’t tell you how many of my medicare eligible buds don’t want anyone messing with their health plan….Also, Repubs keep floating reconciliation to kill the ACA and pass their budget, at which time their ACA transition plan would kick in.

      Threats aside, it would almost be worth watching Repubs take some real heat for all the grief and fear-mongering they’re guilty of if the ACA is repealed. Almost, except that real people, real lives would be hurt.

      • RobA says:

        SCOTUS will vote in favor of the ACA. They don’t make decisions in a vacuum. Even if the swing vote feels the legal case is strong, they realize the social upheaval that will result from a negative result.

        SCOTUS historically does not rule in ways that severely disrupt an embedded social program.

      • 1mime says:

        I’d love to have your confidence in SCOTUS, but, some justices are so patently political that the sanctity of the court has died.

        An example where SCOTUS did disrupt (rightly so) an embedded social program (public ed) is Brown v. Board of Education, which led to desegregation and integration of public schools throughout America.

      • johngalt says:

        I think the SCOTUS will uphold that provision too, but it would be some interesting political theater if they didn’t. Keep in mind that a contrary decision would eliminate federal subsidies for people in states the did NOT implement a state exchange, but would leave them in place for people in states who did. How much political pressure would suddenly come on red state legislatures and governors when their citizens realize they are paying taxes to subsidize insurance premiums in other states that they are not eligible for?

      • 1mime says:

        Rob, I’ve been following discussions on consequences to an unfavorable SCOTUS ruling for the ACA pretty closely. Most parties say that the entire act would fail without the revenue from red state exchanges should the subsidies be struck down by the court. If the ruling is in favor of the ACA, Congress still intends to defund the ACA through the budget process using reconciliation as a backstop manuever to strip its funding. That will force a presidential veto (which is assured) and then it will be a numbers game, putting vulnerable GOP & Dem members of Congress for the 2016 race in a bind and blaming everything on Obama. All of this runs up to 2016 and is designed to roil the base.

        It’s pure gamesmanship and all of those who have gained health insurance through Obamacare are merely pawns. The average uninsured American has never mattered to the GOP, if they had, Republicans would have addressed the matter years earlier with their plan which was the template for the ACA.

      • flypusher says:

        Where I on SCOTUS, I’d say that Congress has the power to fix the issue by changing a few words, there’s plenty of precedent for Congress doing such after the fact fixes on major lengthy pieces of legislation, and therefore there’s no reason for the Court to do what Congress should.

        Also the standing of the 4 plaintiffs is really really questionable.

      • 1mime says:

        Couldn’t agree with you more Fly about the obvious “Congress fixing the four words”, but, that hasn’t happened and years have gone by. Instead, we have a “chicken and egg” scenario whereby Congress is poised to defund the ACA through budget reconciliation, and before the anticipated June SCOTUS decision, if they can get the 60 votes. The GOP is prepared to take this action even if SCOTUS rules favorably for the ACA. The GOP has made Obamacare such a major issue that they have literally painted themselves into a corner. And, why shouldn’t they be optimistic in this regard? The American electorate gave Republicans a sweeping mandate in the last two elections, despite their obstruction and fixation on repealing the ACA. So, what’s the risk/reward ratio for the GOP?

        A more pragmatic, responsible party would work with the Dems and President Obama to make changes to the ACA that would strengthen it or develop a bi-partisan alternative. I’ve read the two GOP transition plans that are waiting in the wings for the repeal or death of the ACA. These proposals are meant to “bridge” the coverage crisis that will occur as millions lose their health coverage, and provide the GOP with time to put their own private, market-driven plan in place. Since Republicans have had years to do so, the only reason for going down that road now is the backlash from millions of Americans who will lose their health coverage (which bothers the GOP less than the potential loss of their votes).

        For the GOP, it’s always political calculus. Forget the human element.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        After the Florida election, where I was sure the Supremes would not intervene and was so wrong, I have little faith in their ability to act as judges.

    • RobA says:

      I mean……it’s not like I care about this or anything.

      It’s just……these guys are paid and paid well to govern and enact laws that improve ppls lives. What’s the point of this? Ok, so the Bible is the state book. What does that even mean?

      I’m not “opposed” to this the same way I wouldn’t be “opposed” to legislation making digs the “official pet “….bit isnt there better uses of these guys time?

    • way2gosassy says:

      It didn’t make it to the final vote before the session ended for the year so they have to start all over in Jan. Gov. Haslam is term limited and has been moving further and further left. I believe if it had passed he would have vetoed it. But the fact that it came so close has quite a few folks on both sides a little rattled.

  6. objv says:

    OK, I’m a little late to the discussion here… but you guys may be having some malabsorption and stinky gas issues. Poop usually sinks.

    (Go Cruz!)

    • objv says:

      Wrong place … again. I used the link in my email to reply to someone. Honest! Sorry Lifer, I’m an ex-nurse and quite used to discussions like this. 🙂

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Once a nurse, always a nurse.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        In your case, a NORSE NURSE, correct?

      • objv says:

        Tutt, I’m only part Norse Nurse. I took the DNA test JG recommended and I found out I am mostly Eastern European. Add in a little Scandinavian, and surprisingly, Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry and take out almost all of the German. That’s me. Oh, yes, I forgot to include the 2.9% Neanderthal. 🙂

        I’d highly recommend taking the 23andMe test. It was lots of fun and the health report from Promethease was interesting as well. It used to cost over $3,000 to get results for the BRCA1 test. That and the results for Alzheimer’s risk and other diseases made it well worth the $115 (110 for 23andMe $5 for Promethease) cost for the testing.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        NEANDERTHAL NURSE??

      • objv says:

        Tutt, I’ll answer to just about anything. 🙂

    • RobA says:

      Ob, I’m counting on that observation (poop sinks) with regards to the Cruz candidacy 😉

    • RobA says:

      Obvj, I’d love to take the 23andme test, however, Canadian insurers ask if you’ve ever had the test done and if you lie and say you didn’t, it can void amy claim you make. And I plan on living my twilight years in Canada, so I’m too nervous to get it done.

      I’d love to do it tho

      • objv says:

        Rob, all I can say is that I’m glad I’m a woman. The report I downloaded indicated that I’m predisposed to prostate cancer and baldness!

        You are right to be concerned about the security of your information . My doctor said my daughter (in her 20s) shouldn’t be tested. He was dubious that insurance companies couldn’t access her information.

        My husband was already an insurance company’s nightmare since he had cancer, a stroke a heart attack and glaucoma at a relatively young age. I’ve always been disgustingly healthy, but my husband’s results showed less predisposition to diseases than mine.

        Rob, if you are just interested in ancestry composition, perhaps Family Tree (https://www.familytreedna.com/ ) or the Ancestry.com test would be better choice. I’m not sure if they test for medical issues.

        JG, are you out there? What would you recommend?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        That’s the main thing I can’t stand about insurance, being unable to act freely, having to mind one’s Ps and Qs, playing hide and seek. Can’t even take a test out of simple curiosity or it will come back to haunt you. I don’t trust the industry.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I guess I should say that I detest the EXPECTATION that we have to behave that way. I’ve always preferred NOT to play games. I’ve been denied insurance in the past for being “too honest.” So be it.

      • Doug says:

        Objv, what identifying info is required to take the test?

      • objv says:

        Doug, all that is required is the ability to spit, a name, an email address and a physical address of where to receive the testing kit.

        Once you receive the results, you can opt in and out of privacy settings and how much you reveal to other people on the site. I’m assuming that occasionally pseudonyms are used. I note that one of my husband’s far distant matches listed himself as Justin Case. Whether that’s a fake name or a whim of a parent isn’t obvious. Most people choose to stay anonymous.

      • objv says:

        Doug, many people who were adopted use tests like 23andMe to find members of their biological families. In their case, they would see if there were any close matches and request to see the other person’s genome. They can frequently patch together enough information to find parents and half-siblings.

        Others want to find out about their genealogy. Although I didn’t find any close genetic matches, I did find connections to family trees including one of a second cousin with whom I had lost contact.

        My husband has received two messages from people in the database. One is African-American. My husband and he share one segment of their DNA.

        My beloved told me, “Once you try black, you can’t go back.” (Which is a strange statement coming from a man who’s skin isn’t much darker than the white paper in my printer.)

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      I’m currently working with two very stubborn two year olds on potty training, and I think Obj has given an idea to help encourage them.

      Rather than saying, “Ok, let’s go poop”, we can go with, “OK, let’s go make a Cruz”

      • 1mime says:

        My daughter swears by the “let them go naked” process. Said it works like a charm….course best implemented during warmer temps (-: Appears kids inherently don’t like being “wet” or “dirty”. But, your “cruz missile” idea is pretty cool!

  7. 1mime says:

    Ahem, since we all seem to be so OT, (usually I’m the culprit), I thought two news items were worthy of posting. The first is the removal of Cuba from the state sponsors of terrorism by President Obama, (which will require Congress’ approval within 45 days) and, the second is the Doc fix that passed the House. Regarding Cuba, very glad to see movement on expanding relations. Hope that goes well and helps not only Cuba’s people but also the Cuban expats in the U.S. Regarding the Doc Fix, it needs to be “fixed” but it is worth noting that the GOP Doc fix adds to the deficit. Still it is a bi-partisan agreement and that is noteworthy.

    Now, being the good, irresponsible Democrat that I am, I think some changes like this are worth increasing the deficit. $70M of the cost hits Medicare, which details I haven’t seen yet so will want to see what that impact is. I guess it’s worth the sleight of hand to tack this fix to the deficit than to do the obvious, which is raise premiums, which are very low. The former is easier to slip past the public, the latter, requires more conversation with constituents.

    On a positive note, two good news items. Let’s hope they both make it to the finish line.

    • GG says:

      Off topic too but interesting. Young CEO raises the minimum salary to $70K. This creates loyal workers. When CEO’s are obscenely overpaid it creates resentment among the “peons” especially when they aren’t even allowed to share in some of the bonuses that are kept in top executive management. I know, because I’ve listened to workers bitterly discussing it. I was at one company that did “poorly” so no bonuses except for CEO, CFO, etc. and they got BIG bonuses. The company didn’t do that badly after all. I’m not a big business or economy expert but something stinks.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/11537095/Best-boss-in-America-CEO-raises-firms-minimum-wage-to-70k-after-reading-study-on-happiness.html

      • RobA says:

        Seems like the tide is turning quickly on this.

        It’s almost like the corporate bigwigs have all, en masse, realized that wages are not just an expense, they can also be an investment.

        It’s not even about money for most employees. It’s about being paid a fair wage for your labour, and feeling appreciated, and not feeling ripped off. When you see the management making multiples more then you, that doesn’t help morale.

        And apathetic employees create unhappy customers, and the bottom line suffers.

      • 1mime says:

        Paying workers a living wage does more than just improve their ability to survive, it enables them to become consumers of more goods than those minimally required for basic needs. Old Mr. Ford recognized this in a well known statement – it was good for business all around.

        What bothers me most about the income divide is the absolute belief, bordering on scorn, by higher income earners that the “poor, laboring class” are to blame for their circumstances as a result of making bad choices, being lazy, and thus feeding off tax revenue via the social safety net instead of getting educated and prepared for “real” jobs. Of course there are those who do just that, but the majority of poor working people want better lives and are working extremely hard to provide for themselves and their children. Many of those who are critical have grown up in privileged environments and rarely get outside their protected circles to see how hard it is being poor.

        The old adage, “walk a mile in my moccasins” is as true as ever.

      • GG says:

        That’s one of the reasons the Costco model has been so successful. CEO’s salary was capped at 350K, I believe, and the employees were paid a decent hourly wage with good benefits, and could get promoted from the bottom up, instead of them hiring mgmt from outside. I knew a few people who worked at a Costco after being laid off from office jobs and they did like it and the morale was great among employees. Being treated as a human being and paid decently is a good thing for any company.

        As you said, unhappy employees don’t work as well because they simply don’t care.

      • GG says:

        Does anyone ever watch that show where the bosses go undercover and work as ordinary employees? I’ve caught a few episodes and it was funny to see how some of them reacted when hearing the employees bitch.

      • 1mime says:

        And, yes, Rob, paying people a fair wage gives them dignity and self respect. Everyone wants to feel they can contribute something to society – from the yard man who labors with his hands and back to the executive who runs big companies. Self worth is important in a moral society.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Rlated to GG’s OT point, but this will surprise no one except the Perry/Texas “let them eat cake” apologists (who will continue to deny reality):

        Texas has the highest percentage of WORKING families on public assistance to survive.

        And I’m sure the Perry sycophants will blame the working families as 1mime noted, rather than the corporate barons getting rich skimming off our taxpayer subsidies/corporate welfare of the sub human minimum wages.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/13/business/economy/working-but-needing-public-assistance-anyway.html?src=me&module=Ribbon&version=context&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Most%20Emailed&pgtype=article

      • 1mime says:

        As I have noted in previous posts, TX legislators and the governor and LT governor, made some pretty big campaign promises about tax reduction – specifically, repeal or great reduction thereof of the TX Enterprise Tax on business, and property tax reduction for individuals. Only problem is, promises were made before calculations on tax revenue losses were made. Now, they are in a pickle trying to find a way to keep their campaign promises.

        Turns out that they are exempting those businesses who have strong lobbyists but not providing tax relief to others….which is….causing a bit of a backlash. Then there are their promises to cut property taxes without speaking first with county commissioners and tax officials who depend upon certain revenue levels to meet current obligations, including services, schools, roads, bonded indebtedness, etc. They’re not too happy either.

        For the supposedly “best party for financial management”, the GOP has really gotten themselves into a bad situation. Kind of makes me feel sorry for them ((-:

      • RobA says:

        Well said 1mime. Mr Ford was a man ahead of his time (with regards to labour, at least)

        GG – true, Costco is the model. Business types tend to overestimate thw importance of hard numbers (such as profit, expenses, ROI etc) and underestimate the intangibles (such as employee morale).

        Make no mistake, having a workforce that LIKES the company and WANTS to be there has an effect on the bottom line, even if it’s hard to quantify.

        Also, there’s the significant cost that turnover brings. Companies spend a lot to train even the most unskilled of workers. If they then leave after a few months, that’s an expensive proposition.

        Keeping employees around for the long haul lowers training costs significantly.

  8. Doug says:

    Religious fundamentalists piss me off. You can’t reason with them. Your second point hits it on the head — nothing they observe or learn will change their view. Which would be fine if they didn’t force that view on everyone else via government. The christian fundamentalists are annoying, to be sure, but the ones that really bother me are the ones — I forget their name — that want to destroy capitalism and who sacrifice eagles on the whirling blades of their towering totems.

    • 1mime says:

      Doug, couldn’t agree with you more.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        1mime, Doug was being mockingly obtuse and dismissive of the left.

        So Doug, where is your proof that slowwwwwly turning massive windmill turbine blades are wiping out bald eagles or any species of birds for that matter?

        As for destroying capitalism, here is proof positive socialism works:

        “Socialism is so good that it allows unemployed people to drive supercars.”

        So there, two can play that absurdist game.

        http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1765602/lamborghini-and-ferrari-drivers-fast-and-furious-crash-are-jobless

      • 1mime says:

        I re-read Doug’s post. Agree as I stated with first part, not last part. See my response below. Just read it too fast. I’m learning about the double-edged sword some of our commentators wield. And here I was thinking I was so cynical and I guess I’m really too trusting (on some issues).

      • Doug says:

        Bubba,the blades appear slow, but the tips can move up to 180 m.p.h. Surprising, huh?

        I posted the bird thing mainly for the religious imagery, but find it interesting that believers want to dismiss it. Reminds me of the Baptist guy who can’t admit that his son is gay.

      • 1mime says:

        Doug, those wind turbine blades whirling at 180mph have some pretty stiff competition in the jet engines of our commercial airline fleet regarding bird loss….just saying…

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Doug says:
        April 16, 2015 at 2:27 pm

        “Bubba,the blades appear slow, but the tips can move up to 180 m.p.h. Surprising, huh?”

        No not surprising if you have basic understanding physics and the relationship with angular speed and rotor radius/blade length and but what is your point about the blade tip speed? That is based in fact?

        What is that you were posting previously about causation vs correlation? In this case you missed the boat entirely as there is neither causation nor correlation of “180 MPH blade tip speed” to massive deaths of raptors. None.

        “Larger turbines have fewer rotations per minute but have
        similar blade tip speeds compared to the smaller turbines
        commonly used in older U.S. wind facilities (NAS 2007). This
        difference may be partly responsible for the lower raptor
        collision rates observed at most wind facilities where larger
        turbines have been installed (NAS 2007).”

        And,

        “Although only general estimates are available, the number of
        birds killed in wind developments is substantially lower
        relative to estimated annual bird casualty rates from a variety
        of other anthropogenic factors including vehicles, buildings
        and windows, power transmission lines, communication
        towers, toxic chemicals including pesticides, and feral and
        domestic cats (Erickson et al. 2001; NAS 2007; Manville 2009)”

        http://www1.eere.energy.gov/wind/pdfs/birds_and_bats_fact_sheet.pdf

        You whiffed again factually in your incessant anti left screed Doug.

    • Turtles Run says:

      “The christian fundamentalists are annoying, to be sure, but the ones that really bother me are the ones — I forget their name — that want to destroy capitalism and who sacrifice eagles on the whirling blades of their towering totems.”

      Republicans? The party that wishes to shift the market dynamic as much in favor of businesses at the expense of the general public. As for birds, is it Democrats or Republicans that claim there is a war on coal industry? The same coal industry that kills almost 8 million birds a year versus the 328,000 (high estimate).

      • Doug says:

        Can you put that chart in birds killed per watt produced format?

      • johngalt says:

        How is nuclear energy killing birds? Are they making assumptions about long term effects of waste storage or potential accidental releases of radioactive material? Habitat loss? Surely uranium mining doesn’t kill 330,000 birds per year.

        It’s worth noting that Americans consume about 8 billion chickens per year, or ~1,000 times the number of birds allegedly killed through energy production.

      • Doug says:

        JG, you can find the study here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2198024

        Maybe you can do better than me on figuring out the guy’s math.

        For coal, the hilariously large number represents *future* deaths, when climate change from coal wipes out 15% to 37% of all bird species in the next 35 years. The sad thing is that “studies” like this get repeated in the media and adopted as truth. COAL KILLS 8 MILLION BIRDS PER YEAR! OMG!!!

      • Turtles Run says:

        JG – Not sure why nuke plants would kill kill more birds, but I was more focused on on Doug’s claim. Possible mine sites in the mid-con region.

        Doug wrote: Can you put that chart in birds killed per watt produced format?

        I do not know did you phrase your comment that way? If slow it down 1/320 I think I can get a glimpse of you moving those goal posts.

      • johngalt says:

        On the basis of the assumptions made by this author, my house is responsible for an infinite number of bird deaths per GWh generated, as I generate no electricity and at least four birds have met their maker in the form of my windows. That is roughly as rigorous as this “study” which is authored by an adjunct law professor.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Doug wrote: For coal, the hilariously large number represents *future* deaths, when climate change from coal wipes out 15% to 37% of all bird species in the next 35 years. The sad thing is that “studies” like this get repeated in the media and adopted as truth. COAL KILLS 8 MILLION BIRDS PER YEAR! OMG!!!

        So are you saying that climate change will not affect birds or not to the degree the study claims. How do you support your claim? Thousands of human deaths yearly can be attributed to coal plants such as heart ailments, respiratory disease and lung cancer. Are we to believe birds are not affected more so when their habits are more directly impacted by the coal industry.

      • 1mime says:

        Turtles, nothing you say will convince Doug. Most (not all) of the rest of us understand what’s at stake. What’s sad is that in the end, it doesn’t matter who is right, we’re all left breathing the same air, fighting extreme weather patterns, melting arctic caps, and degradation of our marine life.

      • Doug says:

        “So are you saying that climate change will not affect birds or not to the degree the study claims. How do you support your claim?”

        Look at your chart: “How many birds are killed each year.” I’m saying that making up a huge, arbitrary, completely unsupportable number for future deaths and framing it in the present tense is patently dishonest. It’s a lie. Not surprising, because that’s how this religion works. Aren’t we supposed to be out of polar bears by now?

      • Doug says:

        mime, to take just one of your points…
        “Extreme weather patterns” are *exactly* like the coal example. It was a prediction, completely made up of nothing, that became embedded as truth. Do some research on tornadoes, drought, flooding, hurricanes, whatever. It’s the exact opposite, yet people *believe*. They have faith. Because that’s what religion is all about.

      • 1mime says:

        Doug, we’re not going to agree on global warming. I am not a scientist but I do believe that the vast majority of scientists concur on global warming and that’s good enough for me. You liken it to “faith”, I assign it to fact that has been researched and documented by many, many very smart people. Are scientists ever wrong? Sure, but 97% of the world’s scientists? You and I are looking at what is happening in the world around us and seeing the causes and consequences differently. But, let me ask you this: If all of the scientists who attribute the changes in and to our planet assert these are due even “partly” to factors caused by man, aren’t we much better off if we take steps now as we can to mitigate negative change? Is your issue with the science or with the remedy?

        Can we agree that the world would be a healthier place if each person was more responsible regarding their interaction with their environment? This is not a zero sum argument whereby you are right and I am wrong. It’s a collective and individual commitment to protecting an environment that we all need to sustain life. I embrace that philosophy.

      • Doug says:

        “Can we agree that the world would be a healthier place if each person was more responsible regarding their interaction with their environment?”

        Absolutely. Just because a person doesn’t believe AGW doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about the environment. And vice versa. If fact, one of the biggest skeptics on the web is a huge environmentalist, and he makes some good arguments about the AGW religion sucking resources from true environmentalism, and policies that are harmful. Here’s what he says about the bird thing: https://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2015/04/08/forty-three-years-fighting-for-the-environment/

      • 1mime says:

        Doug, I read the link and Goddards bio. He sounds more like a global warming denier than an environmentalist, but, I will defer to others who post on this blog who are more knowledgeable in the areas Goddard speaks to.

        Rob? Fifty? Right ON?

        https://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/who-is-steven-goddard/

    • 1mime says:

      The ones that bother you most, Doug, “destroyers of capitalism and (I assume) wind turbines”….Are you referring to environmentalists? I agreed with the earlier part of your statement, but if your latter criticism is directed at environmentalists, I disagree. Are there environmentalists who are too “out there”? Yes, are there fossil fuel industries that are too “out there” yes. As in all things, both need to be responsible. The difference is, and we will disagree on this point, there is a quickly diminishing time frame with protecting our environment. I daresay we’ll have to stop producing/using fossil fuels long before we run out of them.

  9. objv says:

    Thanks for digging up that hellacious song, BigW.

  10. fiftyohm says:

    Religion, at its essence, is the belief in something on bad evidence. (Twain’s adage assumes an operating rational system, I no longer consider to be a given, between the ears of the faithful.)

    It is not at all surprising then, that particularly fundies, have quite twisted worldviews. A consciousness unconstrained by the [horrible] strictures of reason is quite free to conclude whatever it pleases, for absolutely any damnfool reason.

    It’s a sad and very unfortunate situation that has embedded the fundies so deeply in the GOP. Like ticks, they suck the life from the party with their antics as they alienate the rest of us. The asinine legislation from Indiana is a startling example of an ‘in-your-face’ move by the whackos – totally gratuitous in its form, and intended to be little more than chest thumping in its intent. Sure, fundies, you need this legislation to keep the government from forcing you to deal with gays. Does anyone really, truly believe such tripe? Well, let’s see… What did I write in those first two paragraphs?

    Yes, I support the absolute right of a citizen to believe whatever stupidity they choose. I can only hope that as a society we eventually learn to ignore the stupid. While they’re, (I suppose), welcome in the tent, perhaps if we refuse to engage them, they’ll just go away. (Maybe to the Democrats. ;-))

    • Crogged says:

      Amazing how much extremity money can buy. Several blogs ago a commentator included a link to a site regarding creation science and the effort required to believe was admirable.

      • fiftyohm says:

        “Creation Science”. Such an oxymoron!

      • tuttabellamia says:

        How about “Formation Science?”

      • fiftyohm says:

        Hey Tutt. So good to see you back!

        I must be a bit dense today. What is Formation Science?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Fifty, I just made that up. If the world around us is not created, can we say it’s “formed?” Do things just “form” out of the blue? What causes “formation?”

      • Crogged says:

        Good to have you back Tutt. I think we have formation science covered, but matter prior to formation is beyond my meager comprehension. Call it God, or as the good Augustinian I am, the absence of Aristotelian form………

      • Crogged says:

        Or was it Plato with ‘forms’-shadows and stuff…I’m raising teenagers and will resume philosophizing and drinking beer like a good monk in a few years……….

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Crogged, we are on the same wavelength. I was also thinking of Plato’s Theory of Forms and wondering how it fit into this conversation, or how we could make it fit.

      • 1mime says:

        A little fun with Plato’s forms theory:

        “According to Plato, whenever you evaluate one thing as “better” than another, you assume that there is an absolute good from which two objects can be compared. For example, how do you know a horse with four legs is better than a horse with three legs? Answer: You intuitively know that “horseness” involves having four legs.

        Not all of Plato’s contemporaries agreed with Plato. One of his critics said, “I see particular horses, but not horseness.” To which Plato replied sharply, “That is because you have eyes but no intelligence.”

        Hmmm…appears Plato has a little temper to go with that great big mind…

        http://www.theologicalstudies.org/resource-library/philosophy-dictionary/158-platos-theory-of-forms

      • fiftyohm says:

        Ah beer! Me too!

        It’s established science, (quantum mechanics), that stuff pops into and out of existence all the time. And all without a “reason”, let alone, ” purpose”.

        The ancient philosophers are not very useful when discussing QM, or even causality.

        “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mime, I don’t think intuition has anything to do with it. You know (or assume) that “horseness” involves having 4 legs because the vast majority of horses have 4 legs, or at least the horses you’ve come across. So you may be wrong about the number of legs, depending on your exposure to “horseness” — in person, seen with your own eyes, or in representations by others.

      • 1mime says:

        Just havin’ a little fun with Plato, Tutt

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Seriously, Mime . . . ?

      • RobA says:

        Tut, call it whatever you want (the preferred term is “evolution”).

        The fact is, the world around us is very counter intuitive. We learn this more and more as we delve deeper and deeper into science.

        I would refer you to the famous quantum experiment the “double slit experiment”.

        So yours (or mine or anyones) inability to understand how sometjing could “form” out of nothing is completely irrelevent.

        the fact is, both the religious worldview AND the scientific one are completely at odds with our intuition and how we “feel” the world should work.

        The difference is, in the scientific worldview, results done in experiments support the same conclusions time and again. It may seem “impossible” to us, but when we do experiments and we get actual, real life results that affirm these “impossible” conclusions time and again, we must be willing to change our worldview.

        Religion, on the other hand, is just as fantastical, if not more (don’t know about you but I consider an all knowing, all powerful being who somehow came out of nowhere and created us and cares who we have sex with and loves us so much that he created the worst place in the world to send us just in case we don’t love him back to be much more kooky then evolution of the big bang) but has absolutely NO evidence, NO empirical data supporting it,and NO falsifiable way to prove or disprove it’s tenets.

        And no, a 3000 year old book written over hundreds of years by many authors does not, in any way, constitute “evidence”.

        at the end of the day, here’s the difference: religious folks started with a conclusion and worked backwards (“how did we get here? We must have been created. Ok, so how did that happen? I know, a supernatural being did it.”) whereas science is the opposite. We studied the word we live in, and over time, let our observations dictate our conclusions (“intuitively, the earth appears still while the sun revolves around it. But my data is showing the opposite effect. And in fact, when I plug in my numbers, I can make a perfectly predictive theory that matches up what we see in the sky much better then the ptolemaic system”)

        I know which one strikes me as more credible.

      • BigWilly says:

        I don’t seem to see any real comprehension of the Scriptures in any of the broadsides published here today.

        Water into wine, why not? Virgin birth, why not? My theology professor mocked the miracles, I thought the flagpole could probably hold his weight. In his mocking he revealed something important about the pre 60’s left, particularly himself. He said that the miracles were placed into the book for the “pre-literate” masses because they needed them in order to believe. Jesus said the same, yet I can’t help but think that we deal in the same of kind of bunk today.

        How inclined are you to listen to the dirty vagabond beside the road as he preaches walking between the cars at the stop light. You lock the doors and roll up the windows. I’m also quite sure that those of you who do go to church on a regular basis review the Pastor’s credentials and probably groan if you see Wheaton instead of Duke, or God Forbid a Yalie!

        I can bend space time a bit, I can perform some pretty impressive calculations in my head without even knowing it when I’m driving, and I think that it’s possible to turn on some of the 95% of the DNA that is currently junk. The whole DNA scheme seems to suggest some manipulation occurred in human prehistory.

        Brian Sykes theorizes a bottle neck at some point in time led to 7 human females on the planet. Sounds a bit like the flood, and they of course dwelt in the Levant. When Adam and Eve are cast out of the garden Adam becomes…A neolithic revolutionary! A pre historic Bill Gates without a patent.

        Then tell me what you think about the Solutrean hypothesis, unless your clinging to Clovis like your career.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Big – Hope you’re well and all is good with you.

        I don’t give a rip about vagabonds under overpasses, or what they have to say.

        There was no global flood, despite all the myths from many cultures dating back many millennia before the Scriptures.

        The notion that 95% of our DNA is ‘junk’ is quite simply nonsense.

        And so far as I know, Bill Gates never had a patent.

        As far as neolithic American archeology is concerned, just ask the Mormons – they say Jesus visited, and the woo-woo Indians were one of the lost tribes.

        Good god almighty…

      • BigWilly says:

        Well, actually there are numerous local large scale flooding events that occurred at the end of the last ice age which is well within a contemporary human understanding. Like when the ice dam broke for Lake Aggasiz. Look into this one.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Local floods don’t get us to the Ark myth and all that associated horseshit, Big. Give it up, pal.

      • BigWilly says:

        FU Richard Head

      • Crogged says:

        “Stuff pops into and out of existence all the time”. Like our thoughts (well mine, as I’ve proven here, something from nothing occurs all the time). Guess I’ll have to drink beer and read up on some quantum mechanics for dummies (who am I kidding, I need the Wikipedia entry of the executive summary of the book for dummies…..) . Heisenburg was a Lutheran and I was always jealous of the Lutherans, Methodists, Catholics and Episcopalians, who never seemed to get all that worked up the way the people in my religion of birth did.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Crogged, sometimes your thoughts pop up into MY head.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Crogged- I only mentioned QM as an example of the fact that reality is quite different from the world we perceive. “Common sense” extensions and insights don’t get us very far in answering the really big questions. That’s why we need the discipline of science. Lawrence Krauss and others have postulated that the Big Bang was a simple, statistical event, and certainly not one requiring a creator. This conclusion is entirely consistent with our current understanding of nature. Now, whether we will ever actually *know* this for certain, I can’t say. What I can say with complete certainty is that answers to really big questions like that will never be found in religion. Ever.

        Tutt – Now *that* was funny!

      • Crogged says:

        Tutt, my utmost apologies for that distressing occurrence, I don’t like many of them myself.
        Fitty-I’m in complete agreement with you, but sometimes, in the dead of night I get startled awake and the beliefs of my youth become something to fear. Seriously, the end of the world like a Kirk Cameron movie-(then I remember a Kirk Cameron movie is worse than the end of the world).

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Fifty, I hope you agree that, any way you look at it, there is a place for simple AWE.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Crogged – In dreams we’re allowed to depart reality. We should try to keep those departures on our pillows.

        Tutt – I absolutely and with great enthusiasm agree with you! I’m sitting here looking out on my frozen lake. The sky is a brilliant blue, and the temperature is about 65 degrees. It’s incredibly, awesomely beautiful. Last night, the stars were so bright you could nearly read by them. The light left most of those stars before my birth, and from many before the time of man. This place in which we live, and the time we live in, offers us such wonders, such mysteries, such beauty, it is impossible not to be awed by it all. And I can tell you that the awe that springs from the light is nothing like that which creeps from the dark, dank.dogma of mysticism.

      • BigWilly says:

        I’m not horse shitting anyone. I just don’t think you’re quite as knowledgeable as you pretend to be.

        Read Bryan Sykes.

        http://books.google.com/books?id=ssMbhqrP_hcC&printsec=frontcover&q=&hl=en#v=onepage&q&f=false

        Read about the Solutrean hypothesis here;

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solutrean_hypothesis

        Loose all of your credibility here;

        http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100093577/the-science-is-settled-us-liberals-really-are-the-dumbest-creatures-on-the-planet/

        I think I’m about ready to tie Ted Cruz around your neck and toss you into the deepest pool of water available.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        “Fifty, I hope you agree that, any way you look at it, there is a place for simple AWE.”

        But I think we are all over and done with SHOCK and AWE, Tutt. 😉

      • bubbabobcat says:

        “I think I’m about ready to tie Ted Cruz around your neck and toss you into the deepest pool of water available.”

        Ain’t gonna work BW, I heard shit floats. I think that was classical Newtonian physics.

      • 1mime says:

        Just to be clear, Bubba, Cruz is the one floating?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Fifty, I understand that morality does not play a role in all these awesome things we behold. Life springs up and can die just as easily.

        In spite of that, I still consider the awesome cycle of life and death to be intrinsically GOOD, for the very reason that it’s wondrous and even miraculous. In this way, I guess I’ve assigned a human characteristic to science (I use the term “science” to cover all the sciences). But then, I am human, so how else would I describe it, if not in human terms?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Fifty, we have to start from the assumption that the world, and the science that “formed” it, is GOOD, or good enough most of the time, or eventually good, to make living worthwhile.. This assumption of goodness would be a survival instinct. I guess another word would be HOPE.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Big – mtDNA studies absolutely do not suggest the Biblical Eve. There is no question that early ancestors of humans alive today had mothers. Was there a cusp in human history, some sort of population collapse, 160,000 years ago? Maybe. Whatever actually happened had nothing to do with myth, and we will continue to explore that mystery with clear eyes and not by attempting to fit facts to fantasy.

        I have absolutely no idea what the possible origins of neolithic Americans has to do with the discussion. We’re not going in some kind of nutball LDS direction with this are we?

        On the subject of Liberal vs Conservative intelligence, there seems to me to be plenty of stupidity to go around. That you may seem to place me in the camp of the former is interesting. But perhaps no less so than if you believe I some sort of Cruz supporter. I just don’t get it, Big. Maybe you’re right – I am just dense.

        Tutt – I’ll accept your use of the word. “good” in that context. No problem. Just not in the sense that is can be thought of as the opposite of “evil”.

      • Crogged says:

        Enjoyed the Telegraph article for finding something I thought extinct, a ‘liberal’ talk show with ‘liberal’ guests who aren’t skeptical enough. Really American’s aren’t skeptical and liberals swallow everything whole, which is why so many American’s are fat, despite the admonitions in the Bible about gluttony.

      • Crogged says:

        In addition, if Mr. Delingpole spent anytime in America South and West, just driving to different cities and visiting restaurants for lunch and dinner, his meaning on the ‘only’ in ‘only Fox News’ might change.

      • johngalt says:

        The idea that there was a population bottleneck (or more than one) at some point in human evolution is not unreasonable. Explaining that via a vengeful god smiting his creation is entirely unreasonable.

        A conference that included all the anthropologists, linguists, and archaeologists who believed in the Solutrean hypothesis could be held in a very small room, a closet, say.

      • RobA says:

        Big willy says “lose all credibility here” and then posts a clearly biased opinion piece as some sort of evidence?

        so, on one side, we have bloggers, editorials and opinions, all of which with a clear idea logical bent. On the other hand, you have institutions such as NASA, the EPA, the US Navy AND 97% of independent scientists.

        I know who I’m going to give credibility too.

        http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/

        I know that far righties like yourself, when presented with actual facts, then bactrack with bizarre talk abkut massive conspiracies, or how all these scientists are pushing some secret agenda.

        That simply shows a clear lack of understanding about what science is (again, not at all unusual for a far righty). None of these scientists came in with a preconceived idea and then tailored their papers to that.

        If there is an overwhelming consensus (which there is, in this case) in science, it is only because the data and empirical evidence point to the same conclusion time and time again.

        If you just want to believe whatever you want to believe, that’s your right. You’re entitled to your own opinion. What you AREN’T entitled to are your own facts.

        And the facts paint a pretty clear picture for those that are willing to see it.

      • Crogged says:

        But it’s itty bitty WSJ and Rupert Murdoch vs green fire dragon GREENPEACE! And BLOGGERS. And Uniform Scientists Spouting Ridicule-the former USSR! It ain’t fair I tell you.

        31 Republican governors. Republican total control in 24 states. Democrats-an awe inspiring 6.

        The liberals are killing free enterprise. Some American’s talk about climate change and even made us get rid of incandescent light bulbs. They’re coming for your Styrofoam cup. We need to change the status quo.

      • 1mime says:

        The old incandescent bulb lament…..first all, not ALL incandescent bulbs, and secondly, anything we can do to encourage (even as a mandate) something as simple as converting from incandescent to fluorescent or LED (or whatever the next gen light source is…) is a good thing. No bulb police came into your home and pulled your stash of incandescent bulbs from their sockets or their cardboard holders. Business is loving the new market.

        Do you still use dial up telephones? Or, have you gone to buttons? Touch screens? Change happens for good reasons and bad. If the environment is protected more by these changes, then we should embrace the changes.

        I know, you don’t want gov’t telling you you can’t use incandescent bulbs. I feel for you . Something so major. As for your earlier comment about liberals believing everything they hear, I would daresay that the vast majority of right wing fundamentalists believe all the crazy stuff they’re saying, and I KNOW they’re not liberals. Thank God for that! As 50 and Sassy said, who wants these people in their group? They are an island unto themselves.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Fifty, I don’t believe in evil. I see it as good gone way, way wrong.

        And it’s my personal belief that God is GOODNESS, so God MUST be in favor of a loving relationship between people of any sex, as long as the parties involved are not being harmed, nor harming anyone else.

      • Crogged says:

        Dems only have ‘total’ control (all houses of legislature AND governor) in six states.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Tutt – You say you don’t believe in evil. What do you call ISIS, and their particular brand of religion? What do you think you’d think of your god of “love” if you and yours were under the control of ISIS or Boko Haram, and taken as a religiously-sanctioned sex slave? I’d reconsider my position under those circumstances.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        1mime says:
        April 15, 2015 at 1:15 pm
        “Just to be clear, Bubba, Cruz is the one floating?”

        Of course 1mime. Ole fitty is a techie/geeky bud that just happens to be on the other side of the political aisle from me; ever so minimally than he would like to admit 😉

        I may only go so far as to refer to fitty as my favorite “turd blossom” as affectionately as W. lavished it on that dick Cheney 😉

        Non sequitur; to George’s credit they became estranged near the end of his Presidency as I’d like to believe, W. realized 6 years too late how he had been Machiavellianly duped and manipulated by the old Sith Lord. Best slap back in the face to Cheney was never pardoning Scooter Libby for taking the Valerie Plame outing bullet for Cheney and his cronies.

        I wonder if their respective moms knew from the start what Incubus they had sired? Dick Cheney, Dick Nixon, Dick Perry,….

      • 1mime says:

        Ha! Why don’t you tell us what you REALLY think, Bubba ! (- :

        BTW, agree with you on W & “Dickie-poo” split. Hope there’a a special place for Cheney when he finally kicks the bucket. It will be lonely, that’s fer sure.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Bubba – Er, um, thanks?

      • “It’s established science, (quantum mechanics), that stuff pops into and out of existence all the time. And all without a “reason”, let alone, ”purpose”.”

        This whole hubris thing; it’s really kind of amusing. How fashionable it is to belittle the religious hubris of the “fundie,” secure as we are in the hubris of Science. How smugly we bask in the glow of our vaunted scientific knowledge, all the while unaware that we are huddled in a tiny puddle of light, adrift in the vast ocean of night that is the unknown. The funny thing about practicing science is that the closer you get to the edge of darkness, the more you realize how small that puddle of light really is.

        The scientific method is the best way we’ve come up with to date to understand the natural world, but its very strengths are also its weaknesses. The scientific method is founded on reproducibility. By definition, the scientific method is inapplicable to the full understanding of singular events (what the ancients called miracles). In my own field, the Alvarez team was beat up in the literature for well over a decade before the dinosaur killer impact theory was finally (mostly) accepted – it went against the grain the uniformitarianism of Lyell and the gradualism of Hutton that is drilled into the skull of every undergrad geology student. I suspect that I could directly witness a miracle, and utterly fail to recognize it for what it is, so strongly are the prejudices of science embedded in my perception.

        The realm of science is bounded by the space-time fabric of the observable universe; science is rooted in causality; it is the study of proximate causes. Science can take us to the very brink of the Big Bang, but no further. Science simply has *nothing* to say about ultimate agency, or lack thereof. Properly considered, such questions are non sequitur to the scientist.

        Our brains are simply a soup of electro-chemical reactions, each of which is banally predictable. Yet somehow this cascade of chemical chain reactions gives rise to emergent self awareness. How truly, dare I say it, miraculous. Without “reason”? Perhaps. Without “purpose”? Maybe. Mayhap it is all “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Then again, perhaps not.

        If one honestly ponders the limitations of science, one finds it difficult to belittle the faith faithful. At least, that’s what this little bit of flotsam in the quantum foam thinks.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Fifty, I consider the likes of Boko Haram to be good gone WAY, WAY off track.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Fifty, I believe everything and everyone is intrinsically good, starts off on the right foot, but can go wildly astray. “Evil” is an anomaly.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        But of course fitty. I was free associating all over the place just so I could make mention of the illustrious adjective “turd blossom” by the most tenuous of threads. I clarified to 1mime it was NOT in fact you that would float due to personal composition. 😉

      • 1mime says:

        Borrowing on Ob’s analysis, we have to assume cruz sinks. That’s fine by me. I want to take good care of 50 as he adds greatly to the dialogue here. Cruz, otoh, is a “waste”. You got it right the first time, Bubba.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        I don’t know how much extremity money can buy, but the local massage parlor has a special. 50 bucks on the extremity of your choice.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        THEREFORE, if good is the natural state, then true evil takes effort and requires active, willful choice and intent. True evil cannot be blamed on one’s natural state. It necessarily implies guilt and responsibility on the part of the perpetrator.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Tracy – Always great to read your comments. Thanks.

        There is no such thing as hubris in the scientific method. Some scientists may exhibit that characteristic, but the method itself is self-correcting, and as such, the antithesis of the hubris of fundamentalism which purports to be the absolute truth, no questions asked, and not subject to review of any kind. Your own example of the iridium layer is a perfect example of self-correction. There is absolutely no analogue in fundamentalism.

        Reproducibility is indeed a cornerstone of the scientific method. But we can’t create a star, can we? Or a planet. Or the Grand Canyon. But we can understand the processes that give these things birth. Now I know damn good and well that as a geologist you don’t believe the Grand Canyon is a few thousand years old. But there are plenty of YEC fundies that believe that. On bad evidence. They richly deserve ridicule.

        You assert that science can take us to the very brink of the Bi Bang, but no further. This may be true, and I have allowed as much. But it is not certain. The LIDO may show us things we’ve barely imagined. Either way, knowledge of the universe comes *only* from rigorous and disciplined application of the scientific method, and never from the hubristic dogmatism of fundamentalism.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Bubba – “Turd Blossom” is a noun. 😉

      • fiftyohm says:

        Tutt – I can blame a ton of evil on Islamic extremism. You can call it ‘good gone bad’, or whatever you like, but certain belief systems inherently and inexorably lead to evil without guilt.

      • fiftyohm says:

        “LIGO”, not LIDO. Somebody put the D really close to the G on this keyboard…

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Thank you fitty. I hang my head in abject grammarian shame. In all seriousness. Especially since I was one of those oddities in the engineering field with a higher verbal SAT score than the math.

        And thank you for the eloquent response to TThor. I couldn’t come up with more than a brief sentence. Something to the effect of faith is nothing more than a conclusion drawn from a lack of evidence. Which I think RobA had also spoken to more thoroughly also in a previous blog.

      • fiftyohm, thank you for your kind words, kind sir. Dittos!

        I agree completely with your comments, although I’ve learned to be gentle with my “fundie” friends. (Ridicule being mostly unproductive.) I was merely humbly pointing out that the world is more than we know, and that science leaves room for faith.

        And yeah, I’m super excited to see things firing back up at CERN. Heady times!

      • BigWilly says:

        Professor Sykes claims he can trace the MtDNA back to seven prehistoric women in his book. If you go through the male side then you’ll have to look into Spencer Wells. He did a neat show with NatGo about the OOA theory.

        He’s a disciple, if you will, of the Stanford Don Luca Cavali Sforza. He’s the real deal. If you linger longer on the subject check into JP Mallory, Victor Maier, and Colin Renfrew. I think the shouting match going on around me is unnecessary, so I’m closing the gate on this thread and will wait and see what the next one brings.

    • way2gosassy says:

      I completely agree except for the very last line……….We don’t want them either.

      • 1mime says:

        long time no hear, Sassy!

      • fiftyohm says:

        Hey ya, Way2!

        We didn’t either. It’s only fair that you take them for a while. 😉

      • 1mime says:

        No way, fifty! Let’s give em to the Libertarians……

      • fiftyohm says:

        1Mime – Now there’s a mismatch for ya.

      • 1mime says:

        Mismatch? Who cares? Let er rip.

      • 1mime says:

        Crogged, better check your stats again for state governors. Even though I wish Dems had more, they do have more than 6 as you cited; they have 18, and one state gov. is independent, usually voting with Dems. Repubs have 31. You may be interested to note that even though Dem leadership is coming late to the game on state control, they are now committing tremendous resources to that issue. A great deal of time, money and effort is planned to achieve higher levels of Dem representation at the local and state levels. That’s very positive and it will pay off just as it has for the GOP.

        http://www.nga.org/files/live/sites/NGA/files/pdf/GOVLIST.PDF

      • way2gosassy says:

        Hi guys! I’ve been lurking around around for awhile. This was a hard winter for me but I’m slowly getting up to snuff.

    • 1mime says:

      On the money, Fifty.

    • Crogged says:

      Onemime-I was attempting to be hyperbolic (BW nevah evah said it). Except, since 2008, many of my friends to the right zoomed right by hyperbole and are making English evolve/create-depending on your point of view.

      • 1mime says:

        Sassy, hope you are feeling better. I’ve missed your stinging wit and sharp commentary. Take care.

  11. BigWilly says:

    Madonna kisses Drake. Drake curls up and dies on the spot. Do you need more proof that it’s here?

    http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/04/madonnas-kamikaze-kiss/390384/?utm_source=SFFB

    I know that you want to somehow spin these types of events as cultural touchstones, and they truly are: The touchstones of a dying nation.

    • 1mime says:

      And, the nation is dying because…..of all the fornicators? gays getting married? people not going to church? people believing in a different god than “our” god? people choosing not to have children? people not believing in the infallibility of the Bible? of the Constitution?

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Nope…none of those things…Madonna doing creepy things will be the downfall of us all.

      • 1mime says:

        Yeah, Homer, it’s always the “big” things (-:

      • BigWilly says:

        Maybe you should read up a bit on Aleister Crowley? If you’re that serious about Demon worship.

        Then, of course, you want to personalize the argument. You’re missing something and I am unable to communicate this information to you.

        Good luck, I would advise some string going in, unless you wish to be devoured by the Minotaur.

      • 1mime says:

        No, BW, no demon worship, and not meaning to be personal. I’m sorry if that’s how I came across. Just trying to challenge assumptions. I confess that I don’t always understand your thought process and references, so maybe I am “missing something” in your communication. I’ll work on that.

        Aleister Crowley is definitely not someone I admire. You’ll have to find a little kinder, gentler source to inspire me (-:

    • BigWilly says:

      Don’t forget greed, gluttony, and all of the other vices. A retreat to the Super Ego is sometimes a great thing.

      I belief things, like confirmation bias. So I usually abstract information with this in mind. I got twelve hours in theology too, though I still get baffled by the de-ont, taut, the tele etc.

      So you watch something that is Lilithy and think “We’ll that can’t mean nothin.” If it means what it’s supposed to mean you should crap your pants-pardon the pungency.

      • RobA says:

        All these vices are as old as humanity has existed however.

        There is absolutely nothing to suggest that it is in anyway getting “worse”.

        what’s changing is our connectedness with each other and exposure to such things, so it may seem like it is. That’s pretty much the definition of confirmation bias.

        It’s kind of like how lots of people think crime is on the rise because it’s reported so much on, when in fact crime had been going down and down for decades.

        it is significantly safer now then it was decades ago, although you’d never know from all the Rambos walking around armed to the teeth for “protection”. And probably, also as a bit of a dick measuring contest.

      • 1mime says:

        Ah, Rob, glad yer back (-:

    • Crogged says:

      When she recorded “American Pie” and Annette Beining married Warren Beatty, we can agree it was a foreshadowing of doom predicted in Revelations.

    • GG says:

      Is she sucking his life force out like some succubus?

      • Crogged says:

        I think that happens with pretty much all …..dang keyboard…….the record’s stuck…..bad connection……battery die

    • RobA says:

      #joke……

      Right, BW? Please tell me you are not using the pathetic attempt of an aging celebrity to remain relevent as a sign of The End Times.

      Please.

  12. tuttabellamia says:

    Knock knock and good afternoon. I’m back, at least for now.

    I think the original and main purpose of the right to religious freedom is to protect the minority, the lone dissenting voice or small group of people who dares to believe or act differently from the rest of society. I would say that’s the purpose of all our freedoms and rights, including freedom of expression — to protect the minority. Once that religious belief becomes the majority belief, whether it be in a small town or in society at large, and seeks to impose its beliefs on a minority person or group, then it becomes institutionalized and ceases to be religious freedom and instead becomes religious tyranny and defeats the purpose of why this law existed to begin with.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Another question that might come to mind is — who exactly is the minority? Blacks? Gays? Christian fundamentalists? Does the minority change from one generation to the next? Who is the majority-in-charge at this moment in our history? Is the minority of the moment strong enough and determined enough to wield power over the majority? Are Christian fundamentalists the new marginalized minority having to deal with threats to their religious beliefs from the new majority? Just some thoughts.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        I might suggest that “majority” and “minority” in this sense might have to do with power and influence rather than absolute percentages.

        White folks in South Africa clearly were in the minority, yet the power wielded was enough to overwhelm the majority.

        I don’t think we are anywhere near the point where folks wonder if Christians (or nominal Christians) wield the vast amount of power in the US. Heck, we have an annual freak out over some businesses having the temerity to wish Happy Holidays rather than mentioning the birth of Jesus. It seems at times that politicians are contractually obligated to say, “God bless America” at the end of every speech.

        I think it will be a while before Christians are “marginalized”. They may feel marginalized because they don’t get to run 100% roughshod over others, and instead only get 90% of their way. We’ll talk when public schools are closing for Passover and Eid al-Fitr rather than Christmas.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Welcome back Tutt.

        I know this isn’t in the same context as Houston/Homer wrote (i.e. no Christian holidays were removed) , but the NYC public school system is adding 2 Muslim holidays to the school year with one falling in the summer. Muslims are 10% of the students in public school there.

        And before anyone starts whining, I remember getting 2 days off for Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) when I was a kid in public school there during the Jurassic Era. It was great timing too for a kid; usually right after already getting a day off for Labor Day at around the start of school.

        I included a link from the Daily Caller announcing the Muslim holiday just for the “enlightening” reader commentary.

        http://dailycaller.com/2015/03/04/new-york-schools-will-observe-islamic-holidays/

      • 1mime says:

        Ah, that is the question, isn’t it? The minority does change with different generations and by issue, but more fundamental is “how”these differences are pursued through the democratic process. When the majority is “silent or reticent” (not voting, not speaking up) as I believe presently exists, the louder, more aggressive minority may appear to be a majority even if they aren’t. That is the danger embodied in apathy.

        The aggressive religious and political control that fundamentalists seek in their efforts to impose their beliefs on all people is alarming. The preponderance of restrictive laws and narrow views being advocated by religious fundamentalists are dangerous encroachments on the core principles of Democracy and a pluralistic society.

        Tolerance is not a one-way street. It doesn’t matter if “they think they are right and believe that I am wrong”, what matters profoundly is that we respect our differences and equal rights and freedom of religion. Separation of church and state is not just a pretty phrase, it is fundamental to our nation’s democracy.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Bubba, I agree that in the case you note, the minority group whose religious expression needs protection would be Muslims, and yes, I am in favor of observing Muslim holidays (holy days?) if we are to be fair and if we are truly to respect the right to religious expression.

        HT and Mime, I guess power does end up in the hands of those who want it the most and work for it the most. But never underestimate the power of the quiet ones. 🙂

      • 1mime says:

        These timely quotes from the Democratic leaning “Weekly Sift”:

        “Don’t be fooled by the Religious Right types who say they just want government to respect religion. They have no respect for anybody else’s religion. They want their religion to dominate.”

        “It is easy to proclaim all souls equal in the sight of God. It is hard to make men equal on earth in the sight of men.”

        http://weeklysift.com/2015/04/13/equality-on-earth/

      • objv says:

        Tuttabella! So good to see your speedy, determined typewriter again!

        You have made me break my vow of silence. I was determined not to comment until I finished taxes. Oh, well, I have two days left ….

      • objv says:

        Tutt and Homer: I’ve been feeling oppressed of late.

        Why not consider making short people a protected class? We shorties make less money than tall people, and according to a song, “got no reason to live.” I’m tired of the constant, blatant discrimination.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        OV, take all the holidays (holy days) you want, my little friend!

        No vow of silence for me this time, but I did give up news and politics for Lent. I just recently reemerged from my cave.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Obj…you are just going to far. Special rights for short people? Come on. You have got to be kidding me.

        I mean, short people are very literally, by definition, less human than tall people.

        Heck, skinny short people are less than half of me. I’m a human, so they would barely be half-human.

        Of all the people who deserve to be discriminated against, it is short people. Randy Newman was not wrong.

      • csarneson says:

        Why can’t we just describe a minority as ANY group that is discriminated against in such a way as to have their freedoms to personal life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness denied.

        Unfortunately we have white christians today (of which I am one) claiming that their freedom to discriminate and force their religious views on others is being denied. Apparently their pursuit of happiness and freedom stems from their ability to to deny others freedom. I don’t remember seeing that freedom described in any of the writings of our founding fathers…

      • tuttabellamia says:

        csareneson, you’re right. A better word would be “disenfranchised.”

      • tuttabellamia says:

        “Disenfranchised” instead of “minority.”

      • tuttabellamia says:

        “Ladies and gentlemen of the academy, I’d like to thank all the little people . . . “

      • objv says:

        Tutt, We vertically challenged individuals deserve to be thanked in more ways than one. Don’t you know that “only the little people pay taxes?” I’m going to have to write Uncle Sam I big check, but I’m so glad I’m finally done!

        Now, can anyone help me get that bowl off the top shelf. The discrimination against short people practiced by designers of kitchen cabinets is seriously interfering with my “pursuit of happiness.”

      • RobA says:

        considering the long unbroken string of Christian president’s and the almost universal Christian faith of the thousands of congressmen and senators, I think you’d be pretty hard pressed to say with a straight face that Christians are, in any way, an at risk minority.

        And Christian FUNDAMENTALISTS is not a minority. You do not get to be a protected class simply because your extreme interpretations of an ancient text make you an extremist when millions of others interpret the exact same text in a much more non extremist fashion.

        That’s like claiming that the KKK is a minority group.

        True, they ARE in the minority. But that’s only because they’re beliefs are so extreme that the majority of people reject it.

        That’s not what we mean when we use the term ‘Minority ‘

        Men named Bruce or Chaf are a minority as well. But i dont think anyone would argue they need protection.

      • RobA says:

        Obvj – although shortness is not a protected class officially, my strong feeling is that if you were fired from a job, evicted from your residence, or denied service at any public business for the stated reason of shortness, that you would win hands down in any legal proceedings you brought against your oppressors.

        Even if serving short people was against the proprietors rwligous beliefs.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        OV, how about a Lazy Susan with a string and a chute?

        Rob, don’t many jobs require certain physical qualifications? OV weighs just 98 lb. I know it would be wrong for me to evict her over that, but can’t I fire her if she can’t lift boxes heavier than she is?

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        If an essential function of the job requires Obj to lift 50 lbs boxes off a conveyor belt and place them on a pallet all day, and if she is not physically capable of doing that work, then she can legally be not hired for such a role.

        Interestingly, it is possible that Obj could be terminated simply for being short. At least here in Texas, that wouldn’t necessarily ring any discrimination bells for protected groups.

        An evil statistician might argue that discrimination based on height is a subtle way to discriminate against women (since more women than men would fall below the height cutscore) or possibly against Hispanics or Asians (for similar reasons).

        Oddly enough, Michigan, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco have laws forbidding height discrimination.

      • objv says:

        Homer, I just read your previous comment. (You definitely had me laughing.)

        Next you’ll be telling me that short people should only get half a vote.

        Being short and skinny does have one big advantage: coach airline seats are as roomy as business class.

    • 1mime says:

      I have missed your thoughtful posts, Tutta.

      A minority becomes a majority when they vote in higher numbers than those who share different views but don’t vote. When will people ever learn that voting is key to Democracy? Not only their rights are impacted when they fail to exercise their right (and responsibility) to vote, but so are mine.

      • 1mime says:

        On the issue of voter apathy and minority/majority rights, I was pleased with the recent voting turnout and election in Ferguson. Two additional Black council members were added to the one existing, making the council 3/3 black/white. More significant was voter turnout. It went from 12% (2013) to 30% (2015).

        THAT is how the silent majority makes itself heard, Tutta.

        http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/04/08/ferguson_elections_two_black_candidates.html

      • tuttabellamia says:

        You’re right, Mime. That’s what it all boils down to. Another person may be more educated or more active on political blogs, or simply louder, but our votes have the same value, as long as we do vote.

    • “back, at least for now.”

      YAY! 🙂

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Thank you. 🙂 The only news item that interested me enough to draw me out was the story of the pilot suspected of intentionally crashing that plane. What I found admirable is the approach of the German media. their overall respect for privacy with regards to the medical records, name, and photos of the pilot, the names and photos of his family and loved ones, even of his neighbors.

    • johngalt says:

      I’m late to this party, as I have been traveling, but welcome back Tutt and you are entirely right that the purpose of rights freedoms, whether religious or not, is to protect the minority who believe differently than most of the rest of us. The Pilgrims did not get on rickety boats for a preposterous journey because the English embraced their means of worship.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Thanks, John Galt! Actually, “minority” may not be the best term after all. “Disenfranchised” or “marginalized” would be better.

    • 1mime says:

      Arkansas, Missouri – bastions of progressive thought…..

      The pitched battle in Missouri at least offered some an opportunity to think more deeply. I have no doubt that the issues will rise again. This statement struck really sums up the divide:

      “With the advance of marriage, you have two core beliefs that we believe are at odds in this country: religious freedom, and at the same time we believe as Americans that we don’t discriminate. That’s the fight we’re seeing right now,” Mr. Bockelman said. “What’s the length we can extend one without infringing on the other?”

      Neatly sums up the challenge, doesn’t it?

  13. texan5142 says:

    Thank You for that Chris.

    You wrote;

    Now, in the late stages of the fight for basic civil rights in America, we have a waning opportunity to define for history what Christianity meant to the movement. Religious fundamentalists are determined to define Christian faith and practice in a manner that sets it irrevocably at odds with basic human liberty. They are campaigning to define “religious freedom” as “state-enforced Christian cultural supremacy.”

    Now a case in point.

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/04/texas-lawmaker-refuses-to-meet-with-constituents-who-dont-share-her-views-staff-says-it-is-a-waste-of-time/

    • Crogged says:

      Yes, and we get this too.

      http://www.kristv.com/story/28773288/texas-house-bill-could-change-minimum-pay-for-teachers

      So the party which is all business proactive doesn’t believe in receiving value for what you pay, because teaching is a ‘calling’ and those particular people aren’t motivated by economic concerns, like a preacher……….or some other ‘free market’ rule or prejudice……

      Below our author notes he doesn’t believe the current state of politics in the South will lead to armed insurrection, in part because of voter apathy. We are Kansas, and Mississippi, but for the black gold and our economic savant is the guy selling furniture on his assessment of the global market of energy.

  14. bubbabobcat says:

    Sort of off topic but it relates to generic fundamentalism and how they attempt to infringe on the rights of others in the name of “their religion”. This time we are talking about the extremely conservative Hasidic Jews and their infringement of women’s rights in public on a plane.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/10/us/aboard-flights-conflicts-over-seat-assignments-and-religion.html

    I don’t hear any stories of Muslims making that kind of scene or as one commentator on the article noted, (paraphrased), “no Muslim man is making their stranger seatmate on a plane wear a burkha”.

    And for all the Bobby Jindal pandering hysteria about “Muslim no go zones”, Google “Kiryas Joel” in NY state. I can only post one link per post. And I grew up with Hasidic Jews in 2 neighborhoods in NYC but they seem emboldened these days with their rapidly growing numbers (they are pumping out babies like crazy).

    • 1mime says:

      Bubba, ““My buddy who is Orthodox was saying this is a traditional thing — he doesn’t want to be tempted when his wife wasn’t there…”

      Ha! Doesn’t take much temptation, evidently! IMHO, if Hasidic Jews want to fly on a commercial flight, their “religious rights” shouldn’t trump other individuals’ rights. If they insist on seat change, they should be escorted off the plane. (And I hope the female flight attendants do lots of “touching” as they disembark (-:

      Religious demands have gotten out of hand and I am tired of it. Count me as a woman that would tell the Hasidic Jew “he ain’t having my seat and he can stand the entire flight.” Of course, we know this bullying behavior counts on airlines and good people to yield in order to avoid conflict. This hearkens back to the days when American Blacks had to either stand or sit in the back of the bus in deference to White people. To revisit this ridiculous and reprehensible behavior for any reason is absurd. Airlines have deadlines, passengers have connection challenges, and a flight departure delay of 15-20 min is not only a bad business decision but a disservice to other passengers who have paid for their seat assignments. Wonder what would happen if the Hasidic Jews tried to play this little game in first class? Any bets as to what would happen there?

      Don’t want to risk sitting next to a woman in public conveyance? Drive, go by boat, or, stay home and pump out more babies. They will not take my seat.

    • GG says:

      Bubba, funny how so many Americans want to demonize every Muslim and yet be so unaware of what the very orthodox Jews are getting up to. They are, as you said pumping out babies like crazy, buying up large amounts of real estate so they can have their own little kingdoms and, according to some in NY, scamming the government for benefits. There have been several stories of them harassing women in public, calling them whores and spitting, etc. merely for riding bikes with shorts on. I believe they also harassed a little 12 year old schoolgirl. They are just as bad as radical Muslims when it comes to women’s issues.

      But, hey, that’s okay ’cause, you know, Israel is such a good “friend” and all……

    • GG says:

      This is a good article of one woman’s experience in the Hasidic community. They sound nuts.

  15. Anse says:

    So many thoughts flood the mind, I barely know where to start. First, let me say that I think Federalism is a wonderful concept in theory, but lousy in practice. We’re not a nation of far-flung villages where information takes months to travel anymore. The world is smaller. And a result of that is that “states’ rights” is becoming less meaningful.

    If Christian conservatives are really worried about their declining influence, they have nobody to blame but themselves. For the last half-century American Christians have attempted to develop an irrevocable connection between Christian doctrine and free market capitalism. This was due largely to the Cold War, I believe, but nevertheless, “atheism” and “non-Christian” were made inherently connected to the idea of being opposed to capitalism and in favor of socialism. Over the years it’s gotten to the point where some Christian pastors have even argued that capitalism is specifically ordained by the Bible.

    The problem with this should be obvious. Capitalism is an amoral economic philosophy. It’s only true virtue is profitable self-interest. And so I imagine a number of Christians must be shocked by the number of very large corporations who have rushed to condemn discriminatory laws like those in Indiana and Arkansas. Even Walmart, as Red State a company as you can possibly imagine, has condemned these laws. There is a distinct conflict here between small businesses who want to turn gay people away, and the large corporations who have jumped on the gay rights bandwagon. The one upside to all of this, I hope, is that the Right will finally realize just how much influence those large companies have on domestic policy.

    Christians are never so Christian as when they are in the quiet minority. Edward Gibbon, in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, described the allure of Christianity to Romans in the early days of the church. They were humble; they did not engage in profligate living, they abstained from excess, they were kind and had a dignity about them in the face of much public scorn. As a result, they drew converts, many from the poor but also from other classes of Roman life.

    What has ruined Christianity is political power. I don’t wish anything bad on anybody, much less believers. I just wish they’d demonstrate their faith as an act of inward reflection and humble service, and not so much as a class of voters who are distraught that they can no longer dictate the terms of life in this country.

    • 1mime says:

      Great post, Anse. “Quiet Roman Christians” of yesteryear appear to be today’s moderate, reasonable Republicans who (Lifer) don’t support religious extremism, but, they are not speaking out.

      My question is: WHY NOT? If moderate conservatives disagree with the irrational and wrongful actions of highly visible leaders of their party, why aren’t they speaking out?

      As RobA stated, responsible Christians (and all responsible people of whatever faith or belief) should denounce this behavior and thereby not only set an example but lead the way for greater tolerance.

      • Anse says:

        I think some of them do speak out, actually. It’s just hard to speak thoughtfully when other people are in the same room screaming at you and everyone else.

    • Doug says:

      “We’re not a nation of far-flung villages where information takes months to travel anymore. The world is smaller. And a result of that is that “states’ rights” is becoming less meaningful.”

      That argument easily could be extended beyond the states. Information can travel around the world as quickly as from here to D.C. Why not a single world government?

      • dowripple says:

        “Why not a single world government?”

        When the Klingons are attacking Earth, you won’t think that a single world government is such a bad thing.

        Oh, and..”Hab SoSlI’ Quch!” 🙂

      • EJ says:

        I’m enthusiastically in favour of a single world government. With our world economy as tightly integrated as it is, an efficient legal and administrative oversight cannot afford to be interrupted by the existence of dotted lines running across a map every so often. Realistically we’re already a single world; we may as well govern ourselves as one.

        It’ll mean that I’ll have to learn to speak Mandarin, but then I probably should anyway. There’s a load of good literature written in it that I’m missing out on.

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      Hi Anse – “For the last half-century American Christians have attempted to develop an irrevocable connection between Christian doctrine and free market capitalism. This was due largely to the Cold War, I believe, but nevertheless, “atheism” and “non-Christian” were made inherently connected to the idea of being opposed to capitalism and in favor of socialism.”

      Great observation. Always wondered what would have happened if the Communist Manifesto had embraced religion and if the Soviets had used spirituality as part of their push to world domination.

  16. oops says:

    Your religious freedom article was spot on. Good op ed peice. You have potential as a writer who can influence the debate on either side. Are you sure you ain’t secretly a Dem????

  17. EJ says:

    This is possibly the best and most insightful thing you’ve written. Kudos, Chris, this was worth waiting for.

    From what I hear over here on the shores of Europe, I get the impression that the theocratic movement is composed of the same actual people who also make up the hardline fringe of the firearms movement and the neoconfederate movement. If true, this seems to me to be a very worrying thing: a population who do not permit their children to participate in the free marketplace of ideas required for a democratic nation will find themselves drifting further and further from the mainstream. If they are also the same people who view government as illegitimate and train regularly with firearms, then that seems like the perfect recipe for violence. Am I being overly alarmist? When their impotence at the ballot box becomes evident to them, are we likely to see a reconstructionist insurgency?

    • goplifer says:

      This situation might not be quite so worrying but for one detail – over the past thirty years this partisan divide has hardened into a geographic divide. Not by accident that geographic divide runs along roughly the same boundaries as the fight over slavery. We know how that worked out.

      It’s that geographic concentration that makes this situation so volatile. Fortunately, that scary geographic divide is weakened by another factor – a generational divide. The real energy for this movement comes from people who grew up drinking from a whites-only fountain. They are dying.

      Americans are for the most part pretty apathetic about politics.That apathy may buy us enough time for an angry older generation still deeply attached to white supremacy to fade away without an explosion of Neo-Confederate anger. Let’s hope.

      • 1mime says:

        Can a more pluralistic America neutralize Neo-Confederate anger more quickly than the demise of the older white generation? Hispanic birth rates and demographic distribution are boosting their numbers in several southern states, from Texas west and up the Pacific coastline and in CO and Illinois and a handful of NE states. (NY and NJ being notable for their percentages.) Neo-Confederate anger has been more traditionally focused on Blacks, but, will this put this group be at cross purposes with the GOP’s efforts to expand their base among Hispanics?

        At the same time, young people are embracing pluralism while being skeptical of big government throwing traditional party allegiance to the wind. Even with their poor voting records will Mellinnials become more engaged in order to assert their world views? Will the combination of pluralism espoused by a younger more tolerant generation, decline of the older White voter block, and conflict within Neo-Confederate rank and file over who their “adversaries” are advance an entirely new political construct in America?

  18. 1mime says:

    NYT editorial today focuses on “a new phase in anti-Obama attacks”.

    Republicans are resorting to states rights as a new tactic to obstruct and denigrate President Obama. What they can’t achieve through irresponsible religious intervention, they are working at the state level. It’s a new low for the Republican Party, as pointed out by the editorial board of the Times. An example is what is happening in AZ:

    “Arizona legislators, for example, have been working on a bill that “prohibits this state or any of its political subdivisions from using any personnel or financial resources to enforce, administer or cooperate with an executive order issued by the president of the United States that has not been affirmed by a vote of Congress and signed into law as prescribed by the United States Constitution.”

    What’s next? When are the “good” Republicans going to speak out, Lifer?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/12/opinion/sunday/a-new-phase-in-anti-obama-attacks.html?emc=edit_th_20150412&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=41048410

  19. Creigh says:

    How to destroy religion: turn it into politics.

  20. easyfortytwo says:

    Allow me to dust off my broken record and get it ready for the old Victrola. Again, I write this from the perspective of a member of a minority Protestant denomination (UUA).

    The RFRAs, as originally presented in Indiana, Arkansas, Georgia, and Texas, do nothing to promote religious freedom. They were intentionally written to do the opposite. My particular faith holds that it is immoral to use one’s religion to disadvantage individuals based on innate characteristics or their personal beliefs. These RFRAs are (or were) legalized immorality, in direct conflict with the message of Christ.

    So, Greg Abbott, what are you doing to protect my religious freedom?

  21. MassDem says:

    As I have gotten older, I have come around to the view that people do not draw their values and principles from their religion. Rather, the values that come from one’s family, community and life experience influence the way in which a person selects and interprets religious teachings and texts. The Bible is full of conflicts and contradictions, and could be used to justify a wide range of beliefs. Thus we have Christians who accept those who are gay and those who cannot, Christians who are authoritarian towards others, and those who are not, and Christians who follow a prosperity gospel, and those who find holiness in a life of poverty, and all others in between.

    I do find it ironic that some claim to honor Jesus–who surely led a life of love and tolerance toward all people–by discriminating against those who are gay.

    On another note, I wish more Christians would follow Matthew 6:5-6:

    5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

    If we all left our religion in the private sphere, where it belongs, and stopped trying to drag it into the public sphere, then maybe we could all live a little more peacefully. I could happily go without hearing any politician anywhere ever professing his or her faith for the rest of my mortal days.
    Amen.

  22. nacinla says:

    I appreciate where you’re trying to go, but the fact that Jesus said nothing about homosexuality is not the best argument to make with these people. For one, if they listened to Jesus, many of them would not have gotten divorces or conservative legislators would be advocating the outlawing of divorce. Or they would not be eating bacon. Or they would be stoning to death their unruly children. But they are not, because they pick and choose which passages are convenient to believe or follow and they retain others with which the bludgeon people they don’t like. So the primary argument is that a mythical text should not be the basis for civil lawmaking; the Constitution — and our evolving notion of individual freedom — should be, especially when scores of “Christian” denominations cannot agree on a single interpretation of what that mythical book says and means. In fact, they don’t all even agree on which “books” ought to be included. The writers of the Constitution knew well that they had a right not to have someone else’s religion shoved down their throats. Today’s Christian fundamentalists do not believe that, and that’s the problem.

    • RobA says:

      Good post.

    • 1mime says:

      Nacinla, ” …a mythical text should not be the basis for civil lawmaking; the Constitution — and our evolving notion of individual freedom — should be.”

      Very logical, Nacinla. Couldn’t agree more. The only thing that is more contentious than religious agreement these days, is Constitutional agreement….those who don’t want to evolve and those who “are”. Ah, Democracy.

  23. 1mime says:

    Lifer: “I think that a majority of Christians just don’t get their voices heard on this and many other issues.” You are probably correct…but, aren’t they part of the problem (and by extension, part of the solution) when they don’t speak up? There are so many opportunities, large and small to quietly stand up for equal rights. Those who are loudest in proclaiming their legitimacy – Tea Party members, evangelicals, fundamentalists, racists – are dominating the discussion. Why don’t more people speak up instead of remaining silent?

  24. Griffin says:

    Like you said they are consistantly wrong on every issue but now I’m wondering what issues they will soon have left to fight? After homosexuality and gay marriage become as acceptable as interracial couples and polls show the vast majority of Americans do not support the kind of ban on abortion they support, what social issues do they have left to openly press onto everyone else? Increasingly it seems like everytime a hardliner opens his mouth about social issues they basically lose the opportunity to be president or even a senator. I don’t see how Southern social conservatism can continue to be a serious competitor in national politics as they may run out of issues they can openly whine about, unless they keep said positions but just start to be “subtle” about it.

    • 1mime says:

      Griffen, “they may run out of issues…” We have some seriously old, bigoted people who vote and far too many who aren’t old but must feel terribly threatened as they consistently vote against their own best interests. Every time I hear a wingnut make a statement that is weird, I am incredulous that not only do they believe what they are saying, but many of them are educated! Witness the Tea Party whose shelf life is a lot longer than most of us ever imagine, and the fundamentalists whose convoluted reasoning and bigotry continues to amaze me.

      I certainly hope you’re right about extreme social issues slowly becoming a hard sell over the long term. In the short term, these people are doing a lot of harm putting highly restrictive laws on the books and people like them in office. Remedying that will take a lot of effort and patience.

  25. stephen says:

    “Pay special attention to the “red-lettered’ texts. Please right down every word the Gospel writers claim Jesus spoke regarding homosexuality.”

    Jesus did not say anything directly about homosexuality. I do not think that was an omission as it was understood by his society in his day homosexuality was a sin, like today it is understood pedophilia is sin and wrong. The New and Old Testaments are full of scripture that bear out that homosexuality is sinful.

    John 8:4, where the woman was caught in adultery and Jesus’s enemies were trying to trap him shows his attitude towards sexual sin. Not condoning it but loving unconditionally the sinner.

    Corinthians 6:9-11 and Corinthians 6:17-20 make clear all sexual immorality including homosexuality are sinful.

    That covers the Christian Religious ground.

    As far as political goes what two consenting adults do in private is not the business of the state. And gay couples have a legitimate beef that they should have the same consideration as heterosexual couples regarding benefits and the law. But at the same time a pastor should not be force to conduct gay weddings against his belief that such unions are sin. It is too far in my opinion to allow a florist not to sale flowers to gay couples or a baker to not do a cake for them. This is just a basic service. And not a Church sanctioning a Union as is the case of a preacher. This kind of conflict is common in our country where one right or freedom is in contradiction of another right as you yourself have pointed out Lifer. It is why we have courts to sort this out.

    If this makes me a bigot so be it. I am now in my sixties and what I have learned is that you will never get 100% agreement on anything between people. The mature work it out so we can live together in peace as much as possible. And the really mature love everyone else unconditionally like Jesus does.

    • 1mime says:

      “And the mature love everyone”

      Everyone? That’s hard!

    • goplifer says:

      Just a quick note on the prevailing attitudes of the culture Jesus lived in. This was part of a 1st century hoard found in Judea and dating to the time of the first revolt.

      http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/a_history_of_the_world/objects.aspx#36

      Jesus lived as a Jew in a globalized Greek culture that was almost entirely tolerant of homosexuality. And the people who recorded his history mentioned nothing about it. Don’t assume that silence should tell us anything.

    • RobA says:

      Stephan, do you think that the people today who he religious objections to homosexuality today would fall under that same “hate the sun, love the sinner” trope?

      I know they say they do, but when someone says sometjing but does the opposite, I’m inclined to believe their actions.

      And the vast majority of these types are definitely practicing “hate the sinner.”

      Jesus washed the feet of prostitutes (just as big a sin according to the bible). and yet a “christian” shopkeepr claims that merely selling somethibg to a homosexual infringes on their rwligous freedon?

      Please. There is nothing Christ like about the attitude of the people who support things like the RFRA

      • 1mime says:

        RobA, I don’t subscribe to the Bible as an infallible “word of God” document. I believe it is a compilation of many people’s experiences and historical as best anything that old can be documented. That doesn’t diminish the Bible as an important record, nor Jesus as a real man of great love and humility, but it clearly (to me) explains why there are so many inconsistencies. I’m not bothered by that as I am more focused on how people live their lives (myself included). For this reason, I accept all religions because they are man’s institutionalized construct for the practice of their faith, whatever it is. I’m fine with that as long as the religion doesn’t do harm. I simply don’t get entangled in literal words of the Bible.

    • antimule says:

      I think that you forget that (in Romans) Paul made two statements. Paul said that (i) homosexuality is God’s punishment for not honoring God and (ii) is therefore evil. Now we know that people are born that way and that there doesn’t appear to be any faithlessness-gay link. Why insist that Paul was somehow right about the second statement despite being wrong about the first?

      • oops says:

        I don’t know about you but when did Paul’s words supplant Christ’s teaching????

        Most Bible thumpers and true believers can’t or won’t distinguish between what Christ is supposed to have said and what the disciples and the church have said. Many true believers have this crazy notion that God actually extended his hand down from the heavens and wrote the Bible with a quill pen and ink. Kinda like the Moses and the stone tablets thing in the Old Testament. Education would do a lot to dispell such ignorance and confusion.

    • easyfortytwo says:

      “The New and Old Testaments are full of scripture that bear out that homosexuality is sinful.”

      I’m sure you know that there are Christians (like me) who disagree with you on this point. And no matter which version of the Bible you read or how you interpret it, it’s pretty funny that modern Christians would think that the words were written about people like Tim Cook, Robin Roberts, Annise Parker, etc.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      Stephen…Just as there aren’t a whole bunch of Jews “forcing” priests to marry them in a Catholic church, I think we are pretty safe in not having churches sanctioning marriages they do not like.

      • 1mime says:

        Homer, I’m not so sure about that. When there are parishioners of a church who are gay and wish to be married in their church, this can make for difficult choices by their pastor. As Lifer said, in his Methodist Church, gays are welcomed, but I don’t think that is universally true – even within the Methodist Church. I know it’s not with Presbyterians. Still, more and more mainstream protestant pastors (not fundamentalists) are more receptive to the idea and that is positive.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Mime, a difficult choice by the pastor is fine. The government is not forcing the pastor to do something.

        Most Catholic churches make their parishioners jump through any number of hoops in order to get married, and if you choose to not jump through all of those hoops, you may not be allowed to be married in that church. Churches are, and should be, free to make whatever goofy marriage rules they want to make.

        The state, however, should treat everyone equally.

      • 1mime says:

        Agree, on the premises you stated.  New ground being plowed here.   

  26. “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:36-40

    ‘Nuf said. Christianity is pretty much a cool way to live, but practical application can be a bit of a challenge.

    • stephen says:

      You say the last sentence again. Christianity is all about giving to others. Even leaders are rated on how well they are servants. We never hit the target but we have to try all of our lives.

      • RobA says:

        Stephen, except it demonstrably is not

        That may be how YOU interpret Christianity, and if so, kudos to you. But there’s a very significant percentage of those who profess to be Christians that is not about giving to other whatsoever, but instead abkut subjugation and controlling others.

    • Turtles Run says:

      “Christianity is pretty much a cool way to live, but practical application can be a bit of a challenge.”

      Actually it is quite easy. People should follow the Wheaton’s Rule. Don’t be a dick

    • Stephen, Rob, lotta ground to cover here. Stephen, just to be clear, it’s not about giving, it’s about *loving*. That, and the New Testament (the Christ’s commandments) require us to be proactive, not reactive. Moses gave us a bunch of “do nots;” Jesus gives us only two “dos,” and then leaves it us to figure out *how* to “do.” That’s actually kinda scary.

      Now, I think we can agree that “subjugation” and “controlling” are not really on the Christian hit list, so we can rightly decry instances where “Christians” are calling for such things. Beyond that, there’s lots of room for honest disagreement.

      In coming to grips with gay rights in general, and gay marriage in particular, I’ve concentrated my thinking on two questions: 1) is sexual orientation primarily intrinsic, or is it primarily learned?, and 2) is sexual expression (of any type) a net positive, or negative, for those involved?

      Based on my own life experience, and discussions with both gay and straight friends, I can’t help but believe that our sexuality is primarily intrinsic, i.e. “hardwired” (either at birth, or at such an early age as to be moot). Yes, specific sexual behaviors can be learned, but our basic predilections are built-in. We’ve come to agreement in this country that we should not discriminate on the basis of intrinsic characteristics that do no harm to others (e.g., skin color), so it seems to me that we ought not to discriminate on sexual orientation (so long as that orientation seeks expression only with other consenting adults).

      When it comes to sexual expression, again based on my own life experience, and on long observation of others, it seems to me that loving, committed, monogamous relationships are uplifting, whereas fornication (be it gay or straight) is ultimately degrading to the soul. So I can support gay marriage, but decry the “bathhouse” gay lifestyle that led to the rampant initial spread of HIV.

      My positions are based on my application of Jesus’ 2nd commandment, but I do understand how other Christians applying the same commandment could arrive at entirely different positions. A Christian who has concluded that sexuality is primarily *learned* is going to look at Paul’s sexuality prohibitions in his epistles to the Church in Corinth very differently than I do. Such a person is likely to decry any expression of homosexuality as sinful *behavior,* and may do so entirely within the framework of Jesus’ 2nd commandment.

      My hypothetical anti-gay Christian is expressing their Christianity through that whole “love the sinner, hate the sin” thing. Those who are not Christian think it’s just hypocrisy, but it’s really not; it’s an expression of Christ’s 2nd commandment in the form of, “I would not do such things to myself because they are damaging to a person’s relationship with our Creator; please do not do them to yourself.” As Paul wrote,

      “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

      So before you get to hatin’ on our conservative Christian friends, you might consider the following (and it’s OK to remind said conservative Christian friends, as well):

      “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” – Matthew 7:1

      • 1mime says:

        Tracy – “judging” is a basic tenet of religious extremists, wouldn’t you say? Discrimination of race, religion, personal choices or gender is widespread. What is discrimination if not judging?For all the scriptures being quoted, I still go back to this premise: It’s not what one says, it’s what one does.

      • “It’s not what one says, it’s what one does.”

        Tru dat, 1mime.

        Prudence, justice, temperance, fortitude. The ancients believed an individual who possessed all four in good measure was truly favored by the gods. Prudence is judging. Judging without justice or temperance is monstrous.

      • 1mime says:

        Then, by default, judging with temperance and justice also requires fortitude – a quality that is in short supply these days. Would that America had more statesmen/women who possessed fortitude in addition to the other three qualities above. Then “reason” would have a chance to be part of the thought process.

  27. RobA says:

    Falwell says: “The true Negro does not want integration…. He realizes his potential is far better among his own race.”

    I see they were doing the purity test thing back then too. “see, the REAL negros don’t want integration….”

    Kind off the height of arrogance to presume to know what a “true” anything wants when you are not even close to being the class in question.

  28. RobA says:

    Well written article. I think most of us (even the atheists) realize that Christianity is not to blame, but rather a specific interpretation of it.

    The problem is, for the present, it seems that this extreme interpretation is allowed to dictate the tone for all Christians. To that end, I believe it is imperative on Christians to be the ones to lead the way in denounccing this. If I, as an atheist, say things against this perverted view of the scriptures, it holds almost no credibility (putting aside the fact that I’m a ministers son and probably know as much about the Bible as any lay person).But for a CHRISTIAN to denounce it? That means something. And of course, the wingnuts will use the purity test to refute you (“well, he’s just a lukewarm Christian, and God says if you are lukewarm I will spit you out”). But if it becomes apparent that the majority of Christians disagree with them, it will be impossible for them to stick to that defense.

    I don’t believe in a monotheistic God, but the teachings of Jesus as related in the Bible are timeless, moral, and true. I’ve said before and I’ll say again, if Jesus were alive today, he would be despised by the religous fundamentalists. His teachings of forgiveness, compassion, service to the poor and opposition to entrenched power (in the form of the Pharisees) are antithetical to this “Christians” today.

    I believe that much of the quickly shifting attitudes about homosexuality today are because of a push in the gay community in the past 20 years for gays to come out. Because so many were closeted, most people never knew an out gay person. That allowed them to dehumanize and marginilaze gays. It allowed people to convince themselves that gays were some weird Other that frequents gay bars, is promiscuous, and is some sort of undesirable. When gays started coming out in large numbers, all of a sudden, we realized: that guy we play tennis with is gay. My boss is gay. My SON is gay. It humanized them, and made them people. And I do believe that most people are inherently good, and are not naturally inclined to oppress another human. It’s easy to oppress and discriminate against a caricature, however. But when we realized that gay ppeople are, well, people, our attitudes changed. We realized it’s our neighbours, our family, our sports heros.

    In that same vein, I think the moderate and (what I believe to be) majority of Christians need to “come out”. Because they are letting these whackos set the agenda for Christianity, and it is badly hurting the Christian brand (for lack of a better term).

    • RobA says:

      I should add Chris, I’m referring to you. Writing public blog posts with your picture on it is about as “out” as one can get (I’m assuming you are a Christian).

      But the majority of Christians won’t speak out on this.

      • frank nostril says:

        RobA, you remind me of someone I grew up with who describes himself as a Christian atheist. I mean that in a positive way.

      • goplifer says:

        Actually, I think that a majority of Christians just don’t get their voices heard on this and many other issues. I belong to a United Methodist church. Our church openly accepts gay couples and presses the rest of the denomination to do the same. If the matter were just up to the US churches in the denomination then the policy on the matter would have changed long ago.

        The same attitude prevails among the rest of the mainline denominations. The Southern Baptists, along with the nonaligned evangelicals are the main outliers.

      • RobA says:

        sorry, I meant to say, I’m NOT referring to you. You are clearly speaking up about this issue.

  29. briandrush says:

    Clap! Clap! Clap!

    Nothing to add to this, except noting that the two religion clauses of the First Amendment, which fundamentalists often see as a tension-laced compromise, are actually a mutually-reinforcing whole.

    It isn’t that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, but other than that shall not prohibit the free exercise thereof. It’s that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, and thereby shall not prohibit the free exercise thereof.

    Separation of church and state is what protects my religion from being oppressed by yours, or yours by mine. Freedom from religion IS freedom of religion, because it keeps whatever religion gains political power from stomping all over the religious freedom of everyone who doesn’t believe in it.

    This is something that fundamentalists seem incapable of understanding.

    • 1mime says:

      Lifer, one of your best posts. RobA, one of your most thoughtful responses, Brian, love the phrase, “Freedom from religion IS freedom of religion”.

      I agree with all of you. BTW, in downtown Houston’s “toney” district, there is a major Presbyterian Church which is just about to split over the gay issue and same sex marriage. I have followed (via the Houston Chronicle reports) the congregation’s efforts to reconcile their differences around their faith and it hasn’t been pretty. All in the name of faith………..?

      We have so much work to do to be better people to one another. Thanks guys, for elevating the discussion.

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