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February 27, 2007


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What is "religious discourse"?

Arguments made that sound only in faith, or arguments that sound in faith that are also rational, like "murder is bad."

Or do you mean statements that only sound in faith and not reason like "Evolution is wrong and the Earth and all life on it was created 6000 years ago by God in a 6 day creation event"


Mr Garnett, you write, "It strikes me that the fundamental Christian "political" claim, i.e., that there are things which are not Caesar's, was both revolutionary and essential to the development of individual freedom under limited government. Do you disagree?"

Hmm, very interesting point. Yes, it certainly was revolutionary in its cultural context; religion had always been closely tied to the state and Christ was explicitly rejecting any connection between religion and government. (This was further bolstered by his statements that the Kingdom of God had no earthly manifestation.) And it's certainly at strong variance with Islam and Shintoism. Only Buddhism seems similar in this regard, and even then not as explicitly separatist.

However, the subsequent behavior of the Church pretty much ignored Christ's teaching. While the Church certainly fought hard to keep the state out of the Church, it couldn't resist the urge to meddle in political matters. When Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman empire, the Christians turned to persecuting pagans with almost as much gusto as the pagans had persecuted them. The most symbolically powerful example of the Church's attempt to be Caesar was Julius II's triumphal military entry into Florence (or was it Milan?). Moreover, the Church never supported anything like what we'd call freedom of religion; it was quite energetic in recruiting the power of the state to stamp out creeds that it found heretical and never intervened in favor of any religious minority.

So ultimately, I don't think that the Church ever did anything to promote the concept of individual freedom under limited government. Those ideas are clearly derived from Germanic, Greek, and Roman sources.


"... evaluate how freedoms and liberties faired under those societies that most expansively eliminated religous discourse from politics."

and as have others, I rejoin that in many "societies that most expansively [injected] religious discourse [into] politics", freedoms and liberties haven't faired so well either. as noted above, this is essentially a "mine's bigger than yours" argument that gets us nowhere.

"As for religous preservation of intellectual freedom, you seem to forget the historical role of churches in education and the preservation of knowledge."

not at all: eras acknowledged above that contribution - from a millenium ago - and I agree. but the concern I have is how specific religiously motivated activities impact the current society. eg, I consider that ID promotion and other religiously inspired anti-intellectual attacks have a decidedly negative impact and should be vigorously resisted. OTOH, my (essentially ignorant) guess is that the consistently positive, self-confidence building message of a joel osteen has a positive impact. (plus my non-religious wife, mother, and self all enjoy his corny jokes.)

while happy to opine on any specific issue involving religion, I find these broad "religion vs secularism" debates almost as tedious as "liberal vs conservative" ones. such broad-brush labels seldom if ever convey any useful information about an individual, which after all is what in principle our system values. eg, among current prominent political figures the one I admire most and the one I admire least both are vocal christians; ie, that label by itself signifies nada.



But CTW,
that is becasue relgion istelf is the amorpous sometimes political, sometime intellectual sometimes cultural phenomenon that has special constitutional perspective. The definition of what "religion" is from the High court is equally vague.

If I take peyote for recreation or spiritual use outside of a rigorously defined theistic religion, I get arrested. If someone does it and says they believe their ancestors or the wolf god demand it, they can do it.

It makes no sense in the first place. It's like legal protection for people with the most irrational of beliefs.

Talking about religion's role 1000 years ago is meaningless. It was church, poltical party, state, all wrapped up into one depending on the circumstances. It was anthropological and social inevitability back then, so claiming a role for religion qua irrational beliefs in bringing about freedom rings empty outside the "freedom" to believe in irrational ghost stories in the first place.


I meant preotection, not perspective.

Joan A. Conway

The Chinese are totally against the concept equal in the eyes of a God.

Joan A. Conway

What's more, China's heavy-handed hostility to independent institutions highlights the importance, and real meaning, of the "separation of church and state."

Something is lost with this argument! In San Diego, California, where the Catholic Church is undergoing Bankruptcy proceedings in Court, and the past history of this church routinely tried to stop their women from having an abortion through the process of excommunication(s) and of being ostracize by their community of parishioners, I think the kettle is calling the pot black!

I recently visited my Catholic Church is has financial trouble and is seeing in the red!

While I was attending MASS, the priest told of the budget deficits and also that they were turning away a mother who sought their venue for their daughter's marriage.

This they thought was an outrage, since it is the daughter that is getting married.

Oh, how exclusive thou has become in the face of Jesus, who could turn water into wine, and multiply thy bread to feed thousands at a wedding.

I then was approached by two senior 'old ladies' who put the touch on me after the priest decided he would not take the $1.00 donation as hitting the class ceiling approach to contributions.

Before the Mass was over I had the incredible urge to leave for my apartment's bathroom, after giving it the deplorable and greasly $1.00 contribution.

I do not go to church very often because of its policies towards its horrible priests, women, violations against its nuns, and their victims sexually abused children.

I hold my Catholic beliefs close to my vest in the privacy of my home between me and Jesus, My Lord.

Could the Chinese Government contempt of constitutional government see a connection with the Holy See's controlling attitude for hegemony in a foreign country.

A constitutinal government replaces the Church with the Union, trying to make good on the promise of protecting labor rights.

But again nothing protects like the power of the purse of which the Catholic Church is obviously suffering greatly with paying out lots of money to its victims.

I often make contributions to the poor of which I see daily on Chicago's streets.

Do I need to give my small contributions to a Church for its overhead that supports child abuse activities in some of its churches, when I can give directly to a poor person, who may or may not be involved in some abuse or another, that I cannot prove?

The choice appears to be the same blunder doesn't it.

Leadership decays over a period of time and the Catholic Church knows that its Papal Opinions are centuries old to cover its tracks for inactivities or avoidance in certain poliitcal areas, but let the populace enjoy the same right and the Church is outraged.

What happened to equal before the eyes of the Lord in a universal church, such as the Roman Catholic Church?

China as we all know is not equal in dealing with its people, but the Catholic Church pretends to be.

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