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December 10, 2007

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Leif

LAK, are you getting your jollies impugning Pius as a religious hypocrite because (1) you're ignorant about what the "Br." and "O.P." in his sign-off mean or (2) you're so implacably opposed to the religious that you have concluded that they are in all ways intractable hypocrites?

Either way, it's hard to believe that the Law School graduated someone whose primary modes of argument are hyperbole, unsupported assertion, and ad hominem.

Kimball Corson

Br. Pius, OP, writes, "The Founders would have been appalled at the notion that the Federal government was engaging in charitable works at all."

It is largely true that those Founders did not contemplate such a role for government to say nothing of governmental problems regarding income redistribution now induced by badly sagging Lorenz curves. Indeed, we did not even have an income tax then, much less a progressive one . . . to say nothing about the possibility of a negative income tax. The Constitution is too largely silent on these important questions. The Founders perceptions were probably that these were private sector issues and not the business of government.

However, the allowance of an income tax changed all that, but our thinking has not gone far enough except to note it should ne progressive although advocates of proportionality remain. Failure to really address this issue and muddling it up with concepts of the welfare state and whether specific social services should or should not be provided and on what terms and at what level of government and at what administrative cost has taken us far out of the Founders' ball park and placed us in never never land. We seem unable to think well out of the Constitutional box here, but the problem are pressing and the Founders are not really of much help. A possible thread here is Jefferson's right of revolution coupled to an expansive reading of the Second Amendment, but there is too little constitutional help before that point, and so we drift and help the rich at the expense of the middle class. Theories of income distribution and the social and private costs of mal distributions have too long been ignored. They are a world wide problem and we all have our collective heads in the sand on them.

LAK

Leif, don't get your panties all in a bunch over your beloved church. Can I not treat a Br. O.P just as I would you or any religious nut? Of course I can. God is dead and the U of C helped kill him. (Thank God!). Can I take exception to characterizing the necessary rise of the federal government as "monopolizing" social welfare when it was clearly nothing but a matter of necessity and progress? Of course I can. You think the Fed. Gov. giving a damn about its people was motivated by anything other than necessity? You think religious institutions could fulfill the needs of the poor without public money in this day and age? (though my understanding is the KKK really wanted public education precisely becasue of those darn catholics and their schools, so maybe he's right on some level there) Yea taxes. Yea interstate commerce. Yea health and welfare. Yea public schools. yea social security. yea secular social welfare.

Perhaps you should hang out on the DePaul law school blog.

Looking forward to my place in hell,
LAK

"But still a light is shining, from the lamp on down the hall. Maybe the star of Bethlehem wasn't a star at all."

LAK

And as a follow up, do you think our country would have been as successful without public education? Do you think a world in which each religion educated its own would have resulted in the same cohesive successful economy in which people from all religions work together? I think not. If anything the rise of the Federal Governemnt demonstred the ass-backward limitations of leaving the health and welfare of the country to people who believe in ghosts.


FrankMCook

Did I misunderstand entirely? I didn't read the original piece as criticizing Romney at all. I thought it criticized his critics for questioning whether a Mormon was Christian enough to be President.

Roach

Stone is a mediore historian. Many of the Founders were religious Christians. Most of the early states had state-supported churches, oath requirements, and the like. Further, shortly after the Founding, a huge religious revival took place that very much colored the early history of the United States. It's true there was something of a strong Englightenment left-wing of the founding, but a more religious and conservative core got things done at the state level and convinced moderates to go along with the American War for Independene. These include characters like Randolph and John Dickenson and this entire chapter is well documented in Mel Bradford's "A Better Guide than Reason."

Incdientally, Jefferson was not at the Constitutional Convention nor was Tom Paine and a strong conservative tide overtook Americans in response to radicals like Shay's. 1776 and 1787 involved very different spirits, to say the least.

That said, I agree there is something a big hackneyed about the Christian Founders rhetoric, but the idea they were all deists hanging around salons is a bit overdone as well.

Roach

From the South Carolina Constitution of 1778 (available along with lots of other interesting stuff at the Founders Constitution online):

XXI. And whereas the ministers of the gospel are by their profession dedicated to the service of God and the cure of souls, and ought not to be diverted from the great duties of their function, therefore no minister of the gospel or public preacher of any religious persuasion, while he continues in the exercise of his pastoral function, and for two years after, shall be eligible either as governor, lieutenant-governor, a member of the senate, house of representatives, or privy council in this State.

. . . . .

XXXVIII. That all persons and religious societies who acknowledge that there is one God, and a future state of rewards and punishments, and that God is publicly to be worshipped, shall be freely tolerated. The Christian Protestant religion shall be deemed, and is hereby constituted and declared to be, the established religion of this State. That all denominations of Christian Protestants in this State, demeaning themselves peaceably and faithfully, shall enjoy equal religious and civil privileges. To accomplish this desirable purpose without injury to the religious property of those societies of Christians which are by law already incorporated for the purpose of religious worship, and to put it fully into the power of every other society of Christian Protestants, either already formed or hereafter to be formed, to obtain the like incorporation, it is hereby constituted, appointed, and declared that the respective societies of the Church of England that are already formed in this State for the purpose of religious worship shall still continue incorporate and hold the religious property now in their possession. And that whenever fifteen or more male persons, not under twenty-one years of age, professing the Christian Protestant religion, and agreeing to unite themselves in a society for the purposes of religious worship, they shall, (on complying with the terms hereinafter mentioned,) be, and be constituted a church, and be esteemed and regarded in law as of the established religion of the State, and on a petition to the legislature shall be entitled to be incorporated and to enjoy equal privileges. That every society of Christians so formed shall give themselves a name or denomination by which they shall be called and known in law, and all that associate with them for the purposes of worship shall be esteemed as belonging to the society so called. But that previous to the establishment and incorporation of the respective societies of every denomination as aforesaid, and in order to entitle them thereto, each society so petitioning shall have agreed to and subscribed in a book the following five articles, without which no agreement or union of men upon pretence of religion shall entitle them to be incorporated and esteemed as a church of the established religion of this State:

1st. That there is one eternal God, and a future state of rewards and punishments.

2d. That God is publicly to be worshipped.

3d. That the Christian religion is the true religion.

4th. That the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are of divine inspiration, and are the rule of faith and practice.

5th. That it is lawful and the duty of every man being thereunto called by those that govern, to bear witness to the truth.

And that every inhabitant of this State, when called to make an appeal to God as a witness to truth, shall be permitted to do it in that way which is most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience. And that the people of this State may forever enjoy the right of electing their own pastors or clergy, and at the same time that the State may have sufficient security for the due discharge of the pastoral office, by those who shall be admitted to be clergymen, no person shall officiate as minister of any established church who shall not have been chosen by a majority of the society to which he shall minister, or by persons appointed by the said majority, to choose and procure a minister for them; nor until the minister so chosen and appointed shall have made and subscribed to the following declaration, over and above the aforesaid five articles, viz: "That he is determined by God's grace out of the holy scriptures, to instruct the people committed to his charge, and to teach nothing as required of necessity to eternal salvation but that which he shall be persuaded may be concluded and proved from the scripture; that he will use both public and private admonitions, as well to the sick as to the whole within his cure, as need shall require and occasion shall be given, and that he will be diligent in prayers, and in reading of the same; that he will be diligent to frame and fashion his own self and his family according to the doctrine of Christ, and to make both himself and them, as much as in him lieth, wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Christ; that he will maintain and set forwards, as much as he can, quietness, peace, and love among all people, and especially among those that are or shall be committed to his charge. No person shall disturb or molest any religious assembly; nor shall use any reproachful, reviling, or abusive language against any church, that being the certain way of disturbing the peace, and of hindering the conversion of any to the truth, by engaging them in quarrels and animosities, to the hatred of the professors, and that profession which otherwise they might be brought to assent to. No person whatsoever shall speak anything in their religious assembly irreverently or seditiously of the government of this State. No person shall, by law, be obliged to pay towards the maintenance and support of a religious worship that he does not freely join in, or has not voluntarily engaged to support. But the churches, chapels, parsonages, glebes, and all other property now belonging to any societies of the Church of England, or any other religious societies, shall remain and be secured to them forever. The poor shall be supported, and elections managed in the accustomed manner, until laws shall be provided to adjust those matters in the most equitable way.

Jon Rowe

"The vast majority of Founders were Christians, and Romney never suggested that the Founding was based on Christianity."

All of this depends on the meaning of the word "Christian." For instance, to you traditional Roman Catholics out there, you all know that cafeteria Catholics, many of whom are probably religious agnostics, abound in your Church. Are they "Catholics"? Are they "Christians"? In studying this issue in meticulous detail [As an armchair historian, I've read virtually every primary source available on the Founders & Religion], I can attest that many of those Founders who were members of "Christian" Churches rejected the tenets of orthodoxy -- like the Trinity, Incarnation, Atonement, Original Sin, -- which have traditionally defined Christianity. Jefferson is the quintessential example, and he was not an outlier among those elite Whigs who Founded America. He was not only a lifelong Anglican/Episcopalian, but, like George Washington, a Vestryman in that Church. The overwhelming majority of Founders were formally and nominally associated with Christian Churches that professed orthodoxy. However, when you read their private writings and they explain what they really believed in, arguably most of the leading lights [Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, et al.] were not "Christians," but something else. Given they all belived in an active personal Providential God, I'm not sure "Deist" is the proper term either.

Jon Rowe

"That said, I agree there is something a big hackneyed about the Christian Founders rhetoric, but the idea they were all deists hanging around salons is a bit overdone as well."

The truth is actually somewhere in between. The men most responsible for putting forth the ideas of Founding era Republicanism were not orthodox Trinitarian Christians and actually believed in things the orthodox termed "infidelity" or "heresy" (even if it was not strict Deism, ala Thomas Paine). However these men kept their religious secrets to themselves. They got the orthodox to go along with Revolution and Republicanism. However, those ideas were, for the most part, a-biblical at best, and perhaps in tension with traditional Christianity.

Jon Rowe

Chase,

The following is wrong:

"Of the 119 men who either participated in the Constitutional Convention or signed the Declaration of Independence, only 10 were, at any time in their lives, expressly unaffiliated with an organized religion. (B. Franklin, C. Harnett, T. Jefferson, J. Madison, G. Morris, J. Penn, B. Rush, G. Washington, J. Williams, J. Wilson)."

I know for a fact that Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Washington, and G. Morris were associated with the Anglican/Episcopal Church, for most if not all of their lives. They were not, I do believe, confirmed. And they also didn't take communion suggesting they didn't believe what the act stood for: Christ's Atonement. Jefferson and Washington were both vestrymen in the Anglican/Episcopal Church. They were Anglicans/Episcopals, but given they rejected orthodoxy, arguably they weren't "Christians," or as the orthodox would put it, "real Christians."

B. Rush, btw, was a Trinitarian, formerly Calvinist, but later became Arminian and then a Universalist believing all men would be saved. Ben Franklin quit formal Christian Church membership as a young man. I'll have to look up the others (they are clearly less important figures).

Your list also misses Alexander Hamilton who for almost all of his adult life wasn't associated with or a member of any Christian Church.

Kimball Corson

As Roach comment makes clear, with his excerpts from the early South Carolina Constitution, we non-believers in the propositions that "he walks with us and he talks with us," (non-Diests of a sort) should clearly thank Marshall's empetus toward expanded federalism and Lincoln's efforts during the Civil War, among other developments. Otherwise, we could all be living in a Puritan like, 'Y'll come back now culture, nationwide, with churches carrying out LAK's quasi-governmental roles and extracting their prices for it. This is spooky --to the point where I would have left the country earlier.

Kimball Corson

Roach stirs the pot quite knowledgeably and well. It is precisely the idea so succinctly captured in Mel Bradford's title "A Better Guide than Reason" that is a call to arms for the likes of me. 'Whose supposed God is going to give what inane revelations to whom and when' is precisely the idea of leadership that has me railing against what BAC too blithely calls a straw man, as though this problem as evaporated over time, notwithstanding that Bush had his God guiding him into Iraq and Mitt would undoubtedly get some other inane, divine guidance, if just given a chance in office. That is the central point here, our tangential constitutional history debate notwithstanding. Mitt has spoken all the right code words and has the background. He is therefore to be feared and surely voted against. When will the voting public learn about these ether-driven wolves in sheep’s clothing?

LeGioNofZioN

I am very late to this one, and I don't know enough about your founding fathers to offer an expert opinion on much here. Upon reading all of the comments here, I find bigotry rampant in here. Is it not possible to have an elevated discussion without reveling in ones own biases? It seems to me to be the mark of a poor argument, and a shallow mind. If you have a good point to argue, then go at it with examples and evidence. Straw man arguments and passionate personal testimony are for youtube, not this venue. Don't cheapen this blog.

LAK

Bigotry is a tough word. I think this venue is for passion and hyperbole and off the cuff remarks. It is where I can say everything I wanted to say to uptight religious nuts in class that I couldn't. The classroom and the courtroom are for reasoned and measured argument. This is a blog for f's sake you know? Where else can I make fun of Mitt Romney for his religious undergarmnets and his ass-backward "beliefs." Seriously, seer stones? Native Americans as a tribe of Israel? Golden tablets? Faces in hats? The inability to translate the same damn stones twice in the same way!? Coming up with a divine explanation of that too!? (Perhaps my favorite aspect of the insanity that is Mormonism)

Mitt's religion has a special place in my U of C Physics educated heart because it took already completely nonsensical beliefs and simply altered and added to them new layers of nonsense! I love it because it is even more absurd that the ghost stories on which it was based.

This is a blog! A blog. A blog. No more, no less. There are places for reasoend and measured argument, whole institutions in fact, and blogs aren't (and shouldn't) be one of them.


P.S., it isn't a "bias" to reject organized religion and irrational authority outright as a scientist. It is the effective use of reason. And if Mitt wants to scare the uneducated religious masses with stories of the secular boogiman, he and all religions are fair game.


LeGioNofZioN

No sir, that is bigotry and and outright lack of respect for others religious beliefs. I for one am highly skeptical of Mormon claims, but it is not my faith, and I respect the right for those that follow the Mormon path wihtout idiots like us constantly criticizing them. In Canada we have no protection of speech like you Americans do. Right now our Human Rights Council in in the process of prosecuting a magazine for printing an excerpt of a book critical of Islam, and simultaneously an individual for noting on a blog post that the investigator in question was oppposed to free speech. Be careful what you say and where you say it, were it on a Canadian blog you could be prosecuted just like the man I spoke of. You have freedom in your own country but not outside of it. You are an intelligent person LAK and I do like many of the points you bring up, but your bigotry betrays you and mutes the veracity of your points. Try a little less Keith Olbermann and a little more Walter Cronkite, it makes for stronger healthier debate.

LAK

You're right.I have outright disrespect for others' or any religious beliefs. I'm a University of Chicago Student. Damn right I think anyone who believes in a thesitic God who meddles in human affairs is some kind of borderline insane person.

People need to wake up get some courage and realize that the institutional religious structures that came before us infect us and need to be cast out.

I'm a secular humanist. I beleive in love, in humility, in almost all judeo-christian values, and a lot of eastern religious values as well. Do I need some institutionalized storyboard to come to these beliefs? No.

Take a look around. Religion is ruining the world. F religion. It is for small minded idiots.

Seer stones? Faces in hats? Not being able to translate the same tablets twice with the same seer stone and then saying God wanted it that way?

How could you resepct anyone who believes that? How? And why, pray tell, would I?

Cowards. Profound, deep cowards. The lot of 'em.

You think God impregnated a human to ultimately sacrifice him to save the souls of humans that have original sin thanks to the first woman? For god's sake man.

That these people are infecting the University of Chicago and our government should be of great concern, as they are the ones who believe in profiting and killing in the name of their God.

LegioNofZioN

Ok I get it, we differ on respecting religious freedom of practice. Fair enough, so you wish to unload your pent up frustration on believers in this forum. It seems to me that it's not the religious people who are the cowards in this matter. If you have such animosity for believers, why don't you sit down and engage some in real life, not on some anonymous blog post?
If you truly think religion ruins the world, then why not move elsewhere, to a place where very few believe. I suggest Canada. You may have to give up some of your valued freedoms in the process, but most people up here are fairly irreligious. As long as you live in a country where religious practice is protected you will never be rid of them. Can you live your whole life knowing that ?Canada does not engage in widespread protection of religious practise. you can be free of people wishing you merry Christmas, if a mormon or jehovah's witness comes to your door you can sue them through our human rights commission. We never even got involved in Iraq, we should be your heroes.
One day you will learn the error of your thinking on this matter, and that will happen sooner if you actually leave the protection of your home country and see what the real world is like, away from colleges and unversities, when you actually have to deal with people on an individual basis. I may share some of your skepticism but you lack the practical experience to temper it with rational thought and respect for others. That may be an explicitly Canadian concept but I'm sure even an American can grow up and see the world as being far more complex than your personal vantage point allows. I highly suggest travel, to Europe, Africa, East Asia and the West Indies. It will benefit you greatly in your personal development. cheers and best wishes on your advancement LAK.

LAK

What makes you think I don't engage religious people in real life? I do and always have. I also treat them with respect in person, to be certain. I've travelled far and wide. Don't be such a presumtuous self-satisfied smug F, you know? Blog anonymity has its uses and advantages. In fact my closest intellectual companion as a philosophy major was a Christian. I'm not sure why you would be so presumptuous as to extrapolate on my needs and who I am based on blog postings. Bizzare. Perhaps you should direct your judgements inward before you go off thinking you know someone by hwo they write on a blog? A bit self-satisfied are we?

Move to Canada? Are you kidding? I hope so. Where should I move? Toronto? I live in a major U.S. city where the secular educated upper middle class is free from Jesus signs and those who would tell women what they can and can't do with their own f-ing bodies, for the most part. I live in a city where people live and work together despite their diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds, brought together by that great secular uniter: wealth. It's fantastic. I work and party with (secular) muslims and jews and catholics and protestants, even a few mormons.

That's more than can be said for Mitt Romney's church that was outright and explicitly racist until what, 25 years ago? And I'm supposed to respect him when he says secularism is some kind of evil? No, we secular atheists have every right to this country as much as he does. Probably moreso insofar as our beleiefs are based on reason - you know that universal human capability that brought you such progress as antibiotics, indoor plumbing and the electric guitar. The Church? They liked to kill scientists for suggesting the Earth was not at the center of the solar system.

I'll take my Coasts and Chicago for my secularism thanks. I don't need to freeze my arse off just to get away from religious nuts. Nor do I need to be told how to talk and when, espcially on some blog, and especially by some smug Canadian. For F's sake.

"jesus don't want me for a sunbeam"

Kimball Corsonk

LeGioNofZioN: Your idea of bigotry is anyone who disagrees with you too strongly on matters that are important to you. The whole idea of freedom of religion or non-religion and of speech is to permit argument, ridicule, derision and all forms of attack, except ad hominem sputterings, against one's ideas or belief systems to see whether, in the broad commerce of ideas, they are worthy or not. Face it, Mormonism fails and fails miserably under this test, as do too many belief systems build on myth and wild fantasy, especially those which contravene demonstrable fact, well established history or accepted archeology, e.g., the idea that the Garden of Eden is in northwest Missouri is absolutely laughable, but many, if not most Mormons believe it.

Whether you like this situation is wholly irrelevant. It is the likes of you who seek to muzzle many of the rest of us by engaging in what? . . . ad hominum attack, i.e., accusations of bigotry against those who point out the sheer folly of the beliefs you hold dear or wish to protect from scrutiny; just as too many Jews accuse those who disagree with their ideas, of being anti-Semitic.

So what happens when ideas and beliefs fail in the market place of thought? Believers or their proponents retrench, talk only to like minded people and learn to preach to the choir. When that happens, it is a mark of an idea’s or belief’s general failure, whether it is recognized or not. Religious belief systems’ central hallmark is just such a failure. One need only look at the diversity of beliefs addressing the same points of fact across Christian and other belief system denominations to recognize the absurdity of it all as a matter of reason. “Facts” based only on beliefs are generally just so much nonsense.

LegioNofZioN

I am self satisfied in this, because all I was calling for was reasoned discussion and not hyperbole. LAK all of your assetions ring hollow given the content of your discussion. If you treat religious people who have arguably foolish belief systems in real life with respect why would you reduce your point of view on here to simple accusations, when none of them are present to even discuss with. It's just a bash fest with no reason brought forth at all. Maybe growing up in Toronto has put me at an advantage you lack, I was born into multiculturalism, i did not come by it as a youth or student. Growing up around Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Zoarastrians, and Buddhists I am sensitive to bashing of any faith wihtout reasoned discussion. something your diatribes lack. To assert that secular humanists deserve your country moreso than the faithful is evidence alone of your prejudice. I think we all deserve equal footing with none more priveledged than the next. that is equality, not quantifying the foolish nature of beliefs and putting believers lower on the equality scale as a result. And for the record Toronto's weather is fairly benign, akin to Manhattan's. LAK you seem like you have a spark of high intelligence, I wait for the day you have the wisdom to match it.

Kimball, I think you missed a lot of what I said earlier. It is not bigotry to disagree with me, but LAK's earlier ramblings smacked of ad hominen attacks with very little reasoned argument peppered to create the appearance of reason, albeit in a facile manner. I too am highly skeptical of the Mormon faith, but would prefer to discuss it on its merits and failings in a reasoned manner than to simply attack without any balance or someone knowledgeable enough to defend it (I am not attempting to be its defender, just searching for some enlightened argument). In the grander scheme of things, as I noted earlier, our laws and point of view on bigotry seems to be different from what many americans think. no wonder given your value of free speech, something that is not protected outside your country. What I pointed out was that LAK's writings would most definitely be considered bigotry in my country. Were he writing on a Canadian site or blog he could be brought before our Human Rights Council and charged accordingly. i was urging reason as your laws protect speech within your country but not outside of it. Laws and the internet are changing daily and outside of America you are not protected in the manner you are inside your safety zone.

now to bring some of my points to the table about Mormons. I have a little bit of experience with them as my sister fell for their sales pitch and briefly joined them a few years ago. What served as the catalyst for her leaving was a class they taught in Barrie (a suburb 1 hour north of toronto where she lived at the time). this class was how to be a good wife, and while this may work for some people, it seems archaic compared with modern concepts like feminism and individual self determination. they taught that a wife should not contradict her husband ever, unless the health and welfare of the family is threatened. they also advised her to believe her husband to be right in most matters due simply to the fact that he is a man. Now upon hearing this, my little sister could not in good conscience continue to attend the church. If young girls are taught this kind of foolishness, then what kind of women will they grow up to be ?

Now that is a reasoned and detailed account of legitimate criticisms of the Mormons, based on what they teach and not the obvious implausibility of their origin story. On balance, Mormons do have the highest concentration of intact nuclear families, at least in your country. So along with the obvious negatives, there are some positives.

LAK

You're a family bigot. You can't just concluded that having intact nuclear families is a positive without reasoned measured argument! You're better that that. Bigot. Actually those intact Mormon families contain the highest concentration of clinically depressed people in the country. Look it up. So much for that naked conclusion. Hypocrisy. You certainly don't need fear of god to figure out how to sacrifice for family and love. Well, idiots apparently do, and then they hate themselves for their false consciousness and inauthenticity. (Then again, severe depression is a great recruiter for religious ranks and irrational beliefs, so maybe the Mormon elders aren't as dumb as I think)

LegioNoofZion,

You're exactly what is wrong with the left. It is your fault GWB has been so successful and idiots vote for him. You are the reason the right has gained popularity after FDR. A living example of how the left has been rendered a bunch of useless wusses for fear of disrespecting those who are WRONG. There is right and wrong in the world. Tolerance has its limits. Cultural relativism is a joke. The enlightenment is as real as that internal combustion engine you use to cart your frigid Canadian ass around in the snow. People who believe in dogma and doctrine are not on the same ethical or intellectual footing as those of us who reject dogma and other irrational sources of authority and use our brains to conclude how best to think and act.

Why would I respect someone's beliefs when I know they are false, and harming them and the rest of the world? And what isn't substantive about pointing out that Smith had pages of his translation taken away from him (by his skeptical wife, right?), and couldn't retranslate the same tablets with the same seer stone in the same way, and then claimed an angel or God told him not to? That is patently nuts. Somebody's got to point it out. Funny even. And a substantive fact by which to conclude Mormons are COMPLETE IDIOTS. And then I pepper it with hyperbole like "Insanity!" It is. As is the story of Jesus, and Buddah, and Mohammed. Yea for blogs. A wonderful place to vent in a world where I have to smile politely at my co-worker who asks me if Jesus has saved me.

Religion is a cultural disease. An infection. In all its forms. That's not to say certain ethics, morals and spiritual practices they uphold are wrong, love and humility and self examination and ritual and family and selflessness are all wonderful things that exist and can flourish outside the confines of religious dogma. Time to start helping people here and around the world give up their desperate clutch on illusions, or else I fear our days are really numbered, by religion itself (Should I respect Osama's religion by your calculus too? Do tell me where you draw the line my pantie-waisted Canadian friend.)

And welcome to the U of C. Home of some of the finest rational atheist minds in the country. Deal with it. I'll take the U of C physics department over Jesus anyday. I worship at the alter of Michelson, Morely and Fermi. U of C pride.

Kimball Corson

LegioNofZioN : Reasoned discussion and supposed "facts" based on faith are antithetical. There can be no reseasoned discussion of the virgin birth, the purge of oringinal sin (wash away vs the immaculate conception of Mary), the resurrection, walking on water, the assention, etc, etc, or LAK´s points regarding absurd Mormon beliefs based on faith. Reason goes out the window when faith raises its ugly head on matters of fact. I have faith the moon is made of cheese. If you tell me that ain´t so, do you show disrespect to my religious beliefs? I think so, under your view of things. How much faith-based nonsense are we to put up with? How can we remain respectful in the face of such nonsense? Reason and faith based beliefs are and have been at war for ages. One cannot claim both and remain reasonable. To do so is itself unreasonable.

Kimball Corson

LegioNofZioN: And you did not hear me. Freedom of religion and speech allow one to make a horses ass out of himself, but those doctrines also require that he suffer the consequential responses. The market place is that of ideas. The only acceptable currency is reasonable discourse. Faith based anything fails almost by definition if it is not based on demonstrable fact or highly reasonable probabilities. To not be so based largely leaves the oprtion of being faith based. Ergo, the problem.

Kimball Corson

And dear LAK, whose head is in the right place, does bait the religion bear, eliciting responses that prove our points. Religion just cannot take good reasonable discourse and scrutiny, no matter how it is dished out. Faith in the ethers and flights of fancy are required and they are precisely what we rail against. That we elect leaders who have such faith and flights and that they then rely on them to lead us is an absolute travesty of our own making and another reason democracy does not work well. It presumes a sensible electorate and no country seems to have one these days. Here in Nicaragua, Ortega is back in power and the Congress and Supreme Court are shut down as a result of his policies, with no budget passed for the country and millions in foreign aid about to be lost. It is a bitch having to rely on a thousand point of light, driven by dim wits.

Kimball Corson

And dear LAK, whose head is in the right place, does bait the religion bear, eliciting responses that prove our points. Religion just cannot take good reasonable discourse and scrutiny, no matter how it is dished out. Faith in the ethers and flights of fancy are required and they are precisely what we rail against. That we elect leaders who have such faith and flights and that they then rely on them to lead us is an absolute travesty of our own making and another reason democracy does not work well. It presumes a sensible electorate and no country seems to have one these days. Here in Nicaragua, Ortega is back in power and the Congress and Supreme Court are shut down as a result of his policies, with no budget passed for the country and millions in foreign aid about to be lost. It is a bitch having to rely on a thousand point of light, driven by dim wits.

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