Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Thump Your Contradiction

Barack Obama is attempting to do something radical and dangerous for a Presidential candidate...Speak intelligently about religion:

"Even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools?" Obama said. "Would we go with James Dobson's or Al Sharpton's?" referring to the civil rights leader.

(Obama cited examples )
...in asking which Biblical passages should guide public policy — chapters like Leviticus, which Obama said suggests slavery is OK and eating shellfish is an abomination, or Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, "a passage that is so radical that it's doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application."

"Folks haven't been reading their Bibles," Obama said.

This is far too intelligent a discussion to have with most Americans, but James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, immediately proved Obama's point:

"I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology," Dobson said.

"... He is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter."

What Dobson means is that the Christian bible means what Dobson tells you it means and don't go off thinking for yourself.

What Obama means is, "See what I mean?"

Then this:

Dobson...accused Obama of wrongly equating Old Testament texts and dietary codes
that no longer apply to Jesus' teachings in the New Testament.

So is Dobson saying that slavery is ok but the dietary codes aren't? I doubt a sentient being could read what Obama said and think the Obama is "equating" Slavery with eating seafood, exactly the opposite in fact, and Dobson seems to be implying that Slavery IS OK.

These are exactly the questions that people should come to grips with when they decide to practice Christianity...The bible they are supposed to use as their religious foundation is as contradictory as Dobson's own twisted logic, but with a major difference...Jesus really loved people and cared for their welfare. To Jesus, near as I can tell from reading the bible, religion was about thinking and reasoning and loving, and helping and caring for each other...And NOT about smiting each other "in the name of the lord."

As much as anything, Obama's examples of the internal battle within religion, of its own polar opposite factions such as Leviticus and The Sermon on the Mount, frame the problem we face in our society's battle against fundamentalism today. The battle against fundamentalism essentially mirrors the ministry of Jesus Christ.

It is the same battle that intelligent , thoughtful, and caring people fight even now. At any rate, all of this is prima facia evidence in the case against allowing religious factions undue influence in the governance of our country.

I personally would prefer a consensus of the rational, and anyone who tries to thump a bible...ANY bible, claiming we should follow this or that particular passage in our democratic governance needs to be carefully monitored for the destructive symptoms of fundamentalism.




  1. I understand that you like Obama, but you are not being very original or honest when you claim that he is the first politician to speak openly about religion. It doesn’t take a Biblical scholar to cite two passages from the Bible and pose them against each other. Likewise, it is almost naïve for him to suggest that people don’t understand the basic differences between Old and New Testament laws. What Obama has been doing to anger Dobson and others is tailor his commentary on biblical passages around his political positions rather than doing the opposite.
    I personally don’t think that Obama’s words are that offensive to Christians, but I also don’t think they deserve to be heralded as groundbreaking or new. What Obama is attempting to do is old and simple and achieves the same end as not mentioning religion at all: he wants to confront the religious problem with the intent of nullifying it by telling us that there isn’t one way to interpret the text. Those of us who own more than one translation of the Bible knew this already. But one does not understand the entire Holy Bible by reading two passages, which I would bet were handed to him by someone on his staff, and say that the contradiction between the two provides a clear example of how inconsistent the text is when it comes to certain issues. In light of recent polls that show American have detached themselves widely from organized religious groups such as Focus on the Family, I think Obama has pushed his position further to the left in hopes that he can drive moderate Christians away from the Republican party. But again, partisan religious discourse isn’t novel.

  2. You seem to want to accuse me of dishonesty by claiming I said something I didn't. I never said Obama was the first candidate to attempt to speak intelligently about religion, but I did imply that it was rare and stated outright that it was dangerous.

    I cannot remotely agree with Obama's position being "pushed to the left" but rather it is a fairly mainstream stance.

    I personally think most people haven't read all that much in their Christian Bibles and certainly haven't thought about some things all that much. Jesus was a radical reform preacher who basically called for an end to a number of old testament edicts, such as slavery, stoning for nonviolent crimes and the like.

    Obama seems to be calling for the same separation of church and State that Jesus called for in his "render unto Ceasar" pronouncement.

    Even so, you have no justification for questioning Obama's biblical knowlege with your statment that he was handed two passages by his staff. I would call that a clear violation of the "Bearing false witness" part of the "Thy shalt Nots".

  3. Well said, Steve.
    And obviously you knew someone would attempt to over complicate a relatively simple issue.

    This is easy, James Dobson is a lying, blaspheming, in-it-for-the-money-not-the-lord piece of Jesus Pimp shit.

    That lying scumbag no more believes his own doctrine than any intelligent Christian does.
    His forked tongue moves only to manipulate the faithful into parting with their money, then encourages them to vote for traitors and fascists so he can keep robbing people with impunity.

    Fuck him and the whore that bore him. He's an insignificant Pig.

    Sharpton is and idiot too, but he has the Jesus factor correct where Dobson doesn't have it at all, much less correct.

  4. I knew when I stated the comment about Obama being handed the passages that I would hit some criticism, but for the most part what we are dealing with is a secular interpretation of religious texts. Let's not dwell on the specifics of Obama's approach, but you did buy into the idea that Obama was breaking with tradition in his statements on religion. I just ask for a bit of honesty when it comes to Obama's approach. It's not new; its not revolutionary-- it falls in line with the mainstream liberal agenda. When religion is mentioned by those on the right wing, it is condemned for being an attempt to further radical Christian ideals. But when someone on the left mentions religion with hopes of nullifying its influence on the masses, he or she is praised as being new and refreshing. I believe in the idea of a seperation of church and state, but in the process I only ask that my government not impede upon my interpretation of the Bible. Obama's statements on the Old and New Testaments try to belittle those who take them seriously in a blatant show of political expediency of Christianism .

  5. "I only ask that my government not impede upon my interpretation of the Bible"

    And I only ask that you give some thought to what we are asking, mainly that Religion stay out of government, and in return, Government will stay out of religion.

    Your arguments are so transparently off base that I don't think you have actually examined what you're saying, but are repeating things you've been told. You stated something that you have no idea whether it is true or a lie, and yet you continued...What is christian about that?

    I don't mean to criticize but to ask you to think about what you are doing and if Christianity really supports your actions.

  6. mrathel3:13 PM

    Alright sweetheart,
    lets try again.

    I essentially said the same thing as you did when you said regarding the separation of church and state, only you don't seem to be able to grasp my arguments, probably because you feel that anything that doesn't fall in line with your notions of rational thought (which you have tied to your political ideology) fails your litmus test for political discourse.
    What I am saying is that I think most Christians will agree that religion and politics should operate in different spheres. But when Obama takes religious words and ties them to his political agenda, he crosses the Rubicon, if you will (or are capable.) Obama picked two areas of scripture, gave a cursory explanation of both, then proceeded to explain how neither were relevant to common political problems. Bravo, Mr. Obama. How New!
    The truth is that Christians seek a separation of church and state without a removal of the church from the state. (Ya dig?) In other words, we feel that the Federal Government, which was created to protect religious practice, should not impede upon our ability to hold our own set or moral principles and to use these principles as the foundation of our political discourse. “WHAT? THAT’S NOT SEPERATON” you might say, but that is your heart beginning to cloud your mind. When Obama quotes the Bible then tries to turn the words upside down in order to nullify the entire Bible with a summary that implies the old testament is pro-slavery and the new testament is too radical, he states that his view of our text differs greatly from our own. Now when someone from the Religious Right attempts to counter his attack, the politicians of the left will accuse the Christians of attempting to bring religion into politics. This is where I accuse you of not being able to use reason. You are defending the idea that the only politically correct form of mentioning the Bible is to degrade its value. As a personal view, that is a right you retain under the Constitution. As a political stance by a politician or political party, it impedes upon my right to freedom of religion. I don't ask that my president be Christian, but I do ask that he not tell me that Christian ideals have no place in governmental policy.

    Lastly, don’t tell me what Christians should or should not do based on a mindset that doesn’t use the Bible as its only reference. I don’t know how well you know your Bible, but you are committing the same fallacy Obama commits when you tell me that stating something I don’t know to the be truth is unchristian. The Bible doesn’t describe speculation as sin, and I think you would be hard pressed to use the “Give unto Caesar” quote in this case, but given your recent attempt to tie it into something other than the monetary relationship between government and religion, I would not put it past you.

  7. So, Mrathel, do I get to speculate that you are off your medication somewhat?

    You appear to me to twist things into nonsense, but let me back this up a bit.

    What I hear Obama saying is that religion is a devisive factor in governance and should be avoided. He used Dobson and Sharpton as examples of two people who claim to be christians and yet believe very different things.

    I don't accept the Bible literally and I'm not alone in that regard. Lots of people do accept the Christian Bible literally. It would seem to me that this one fact is enough to prove Obama's point that seems to have escaped this exchange.

    Even within Christianity there is such a diversity of views and what is acceptable, that any guidance based on the supernatural is untenable and unjustifiable in America.

    I think that you are simply looking for, or trying to manufacture, something to hold against Obama, but that's speculation on my part. At any rate, my views on religion don't coincide with Obama's but my views on how one should try to behave toward others match up quite well.

  8. Darling, Please.

    If you want to itemize an argument to keep things simple, I would be willing to put it into bullet form for you, but I don't normally spend this much time with individuals who lack the communication skills to at least argue coherently. I spelled out the problem quite clearly: the double standard in dealing with liberal and conservative interpretations of the Bible. I don't care what you think of the text; that is not the subject here. What I am saying is that it is unjust that one man or one political party should take it upon himself or itself to decide which interpretation of the text should be allowed to form the basis for a political argument. Try my friend, try to understand that this is a valid argument even if you don't believe in it.

    Prove William F. Buckley wrong when he said:
    Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.

    You can do it, I believe in you.

  9. So Mrathel...Which Troll school did you go to?

    You continue to argue things that haven't been said, darling. In fact you misrepresent so much that you are simply incoherent as you slide along calling people names and implying that yours is the only interpretation of the bible that is allowed. In so doing, you prove Obama's point that there are more than one and in fact are many points of christian view and no government shall be allowed to pick from among them.

    You prove my point that you are simply a troll, uninterested in true discussion, by quoting one of Buckley's more stupid statements.

    Buckley was a first rate intellect, which made his blind conservatism all the more tragic... Particularly in that it allows trolls like you, darling mrathel, to repeat his drivel as if it had meaning or a wisp of fact backing it up.

  10. Darling, darling, darling.

    I told you 3 or 4 posts ago that I have no problem with other interpretations of the Bible so long as others allow that mine is valid. That was all I argued in the last post, which I took the liberty of reframing as
    "the double standard in dealing with liberal and conservative interpretations of the Bible." I am sorry that you don't understand. I don't ask that you agree with my religious opinions, but I do ask that those who run my government refrain from mocking their validity as basis of my political value system (I am losing you in the big words again, aren't I?)

    Ok, let's try this: I think what I think and you think what you think. I have a right to think what I think, and you have a right to think what you think. All things considered, your opinion is not better than mine simply because it is based on something other than the Bible.

  11. Matthew, It's good to see that you've apparently taken back most of your points, and that's good. Your logic is still obviously upside down, but then I expect that from people who base their opinions on only one interpretation of the bible. A couple of suggestions might be 1, Don't try to use a straw man argument when you are a couple of bales short of a load. and 2, Let those nice people who look after you that you've been playing on the internet again. They really do have your best interests at heart.

  12. Hahaha, I see that you are a bit of a playful blogger, but I think you have turned your criticism too sharply towards me and have not looked at my words enough. However, I saw a good quote in an article by Howard Fineman in the Washington Post that may more artfully describe the gist of my argument on religion and politics:

    The answer is simple: it’s in our genes. Arguing about religion is central to our public life, and has been for nearly four centuries. If you cover politics, as I do, or write a book about political history, as I’ve just done ("The Thirteen American Arguments," Random House), you know that we separate church and state, but not faith and politics.

    -- Again the idea of separation. I may have played around too long in my explanations, but his point is the same as mine. Faith can be used as a foundation of political thought. If you would like to discuss the validity of using religious texts as a basis for moral and ethical principles, that is one thing. But I have tried to limit my discussion to the reverse side of the coin: Obama's criticism of the views of some christians.
    Let's not get caught back up in arguing the former but focus on the latter to keep things simple. Do you believe that limiting the scope of acceptable interpretation of any religious text in a political speech constitutes an attempt to limit the influence of one Christian demonination (as a generic term, not a description of particular organized religions) and promote another?