by Goldy, 11/26/2004, 9:03 AM

I’m taking a break from the debate over recounts and re-recounts, to talk for a moment about something a little less on the minds of most voters… my eternal damnation.

In a piece reprinted today in the Seattle P-I (“It’s sure to get tougher for secular liberals“), NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof writes about a subject that I’ve touched upon a couple of times (here and here), the fact that millions of evangelical Christians believe that I am going to Hell… and soon.

Well, not just me, but all nonbelievers. Jews, Muslims, Catholics, atheists, (and I’m guessing, Democratic-voting evangelicals too)… in short, just about anybody who doesn’t believe what they believe.

And not only do they think we’re all going to Hell, but when I hear them talk or write about it, I often detect a bit self-righteous gloating.

What does this have to do with politics? Well, just a word of caution to my Republican friends about their political allies in the Christian right, who many analysts believe swung the presidential election: it’s not just us secular liberals who need to worry… they believe you are going to Hell, too!

That’s right, all you conservative bloggers over at Sound Politics, Christ is coming back to toss you howling and screeching into a pit of eternal fire. (Well… maybe not Marsha.)

See you in Hell.

62 Responses to “Have you heard the good news? I’m going to Hell!”

1. Mr. Cynical-dy spews:

Good one to try and stir the pot Goldy—perhaps you will get a few flakes to take the bait or perhaps a few unbelievers will pretend to be believers and give you what you want. Not me.
I’m a Christian who happens to be a Republican. I regularly attend a church where the vast majority are Christians who happen to be Democrats. Some are even Green Party and Libertarians.
Our Pastor is a staunch Democrat and a wonderful Christian man who never stops fighting for the underdogs…thru Habitat for Humanity, Food Banks etc. I love him and admire him. We disagree on politics…and occassionally he allows his Dem. leanings to show in his message. Oh well, says I. What a great country we live in where you can speak freely, walk your talk or not and vote for whoever for whatever reason (even religous beliefs).
I understand your site depends upon controversial poop-stirring. And Goldy you do a most excellent job of getting folks to think. I appreciate that…keep going.
The fact is I don’t know if you are going to Heaven…I do believe there is ultimately a Judgment and frankly, we will all be surprised by who is in Heaven and not. The fact is, you condemn the human messengers all you want (we are all frail human beings). It seems to all boil down to what is in your heart. It is up to each of us to choose the path we desire.
So my vote is to allow folks to continue to vote for whoever for whatever reason they choose. If Christians coming together makes you nervous, give me a solution Goldy other than ranting & raving that it offends you. But at the same time, address other Groups of people with similiar beliefs that band together because of Racr, Sexual preference, anti-Christian Groups etc.

2. Josef spews:

In defense of my Marsha Richards: If the Christian right had their way, my Marsha would burn in their hell too. She’s a Christian LIBERTARIAN professional spinner for the Evergreen Freedom Foundation who got onto Republican Radio and Sound Politics solely to get EFF’s agenda on the airwaves (and to give hell to the Educrats whom deny teachers 6-figure salaries and instead have retreats at ritzy restaurants) – NOT a Christian conservative (note the small c) “evangelical” right-wing (you get the idea) whack job (Bush, Cheney, and Rove for starters – NOT Rossi, CERTAINLY NOT Rob McKenna, and DEFINITELY NOT John McCain). And she’s also my friend who has a great blog at mlouise (DOT] blogspot [DOT) com . (bloody shame about the spam attack).

Otherwise, ***** post. THIS is the sad truth about the right wing. BTW: Goldy, did you read yesterday’s column by Thomas L. Friedman in the NY Times about Thanksgiving? Boy, that was something very true. And something the Christian conservatives want to acknowledge. Cow-ards!

3. Josef spews:

Comment by Josef— 11/26/04 @ 10:02 am

Make that: “And something the Christian conservatives DO NOT want to acknowledge. Cow-ards!”

My Marsha wouldn’t approve nor tolerate those like Delay whom spit on our nation’s flag and our democracy. What a filthy cow-ard. What a battle cry for Democrats: REMEMBER DELAY?!?

If Gov’r-elect Rossi’s like this, then he’s done.

4. Chuck spews:

Well, I am a conservative Christian, although I am far from a Bible thumper. I am familiar with the book, dont attend church very often, cuss like a sailor at times…get the idea? Let me light in on your subject here, to say that all Christians act like this is the equaivalent of saying that all blonds are stupid. I am certain that there are a few stupid blonds as there are alse a few “Christians” that try to shove their belief right up your @ss, however the majority of both groups are well adjusted intelligent individuals. Most Christians tend to live their lives and if questioned on thier faith are more than happy to share it with someone else. People have used the Bible as a shield to rob as well as kill their fellow man and these people are just as guilty as Ted Bundy was. Dont generalise a group for the actions of a few. But on the other hand, if you see my child (my kids are grown) in a public school and he decides to pray, dont take him to court, if the local citizens decide to have a moment of silence and my kids decide to pray during that time leave them alone, you can reflect on the day if you want to during that time. If my kids find simular believing people and want to meet with them after school, much as the afro club does leave them alone. That is all most of us ask. The separation of church and state is a phrase that exists in the communist manifesto (Karl Marx) not the constitution or bill of rights. Our document says the government shall establish no law….

5. Mr. Cynical-dy spews:

Thanks for speaking up Chuck…The far Left will do anything to demonize Christians. They view Karl Marx as the second coming of Christ. I don’t by it. As you know:
“Washington State wouldn’t be in such a snarl…
If Marx had been Groucho..instead of Karl”!!!

6. Josef spews:

Comment by Chuck— 11/26/04 @ 10:06 am

It’s not you I’m worried about. Go ahead and pray – God Bless You. It’s Bob Williams, Delay, Dick Armey, Dubya, etcetera whom have betrayed you. And those many Christian Conservatives whom continue to follow them. If the grassroots cannot stand up to their leaders, then what true use are they except as cowering toys for the latter?

7. Kyle spews:

Hey, with all this stuff about non-christians going to hell, all I can say is truth hurts.

But honestly, if you don’t think thats right, why make such a big deal about it? I personally think all people who have not accepted Jesus into their hearts and minds will end up going to hell, no matter what party they belong to. One of the strongest Christians at my church is a very strong democrat. There is even a socialist family in my church. That was interesting when I found that out when the oldest son in their family and I got into a talk at youth camp last year. Do I think they are wrong on political issues? Yeah. Do I think they will go to hell over it? No, thats up to what they think religion wise.

8. David spews:

Mr. Cynical”-dy” writes: “The fact is I don’t know if you are going to Heaven…” Exactly. How could you? I don’t read Goldy as “condemn[ing] the human messengers” of the one True Faith (pick your favorite faith), but as pointing out the kind of spiritual arrogance that causes some folks to think they infallibly know G-d’s plan. Admire the righteous but beware the self-righteous.

9. Bennington spews:

Here’s my brand of religion: there is a God and a Devil–they are he/she/it depending on your point of view. They are the little voice that continually resounds in our heads with good thoughts, or bad thoughts. These thoughts push us to do good things that help our fellow men, or bad things that harm our society. We all have this voice that will not quit–that will not give us peace, and our life will be accounted at its end by which voice we follow the majority of time. And, it is most important to allow each individual in our world to believe as they see fit as long as they do not harm others. I think it is important for a true humanitarian to think about the following: do you really need more money?; do you really need more possessions?; do you truly help others by providing them with the means to live a better life?; do you take good care of the earth on which you live?; do you allow others the right to choose their way of life or do you think YOUR way is the only way? Remember, religion does not allow democracy–you must believe the doctrine, or you must go. Wouldn’t we all be better off if we had one commandment–THE GOLDEN RULE.

10. Goldy spews:

I just want to make one thing perfectly clear, before this discussion devolves any further. I was not generalizing about all Christians… I was just pointing out the beliefs of a segment of Evangelicals who clearly believe that people like me are going to Hell.

I married into a Catholic family, and though now divorced, remain close with my in-laws. I also have a beautiful half-shicksa daughter. So I don’t want to be branded here as anti-Christian. I do, however, sincerely doubt that people can deal with me justly in this world, when they believe I am doomed to eternal torment in the next.

11. David spews:

Says Chuck: “The separation of church and state is a phrase that exists in the communist manifesto (Karl Marx) not the constitution or bill of rights. Our document says the government shall establish no law…” ahem, …respecting an establishment of religion, or the free exercise thereof; you left that part out. So while the words ‘separation of church and state’ aren’t in the Bill of Rights (1st Am.), the concept is. The free exercise clause means your child can pray in public school all he wants (e.g., before midterms) and the government (i.e., the school) shall not intervene. And the no establishment clause means the government shall not endorse or establish any religion — so schools shall not sponsor any kind of official prayer (or even prayer time). That’s one of the wonderful things about this country: you can have your own religious beliefs and not have the majority or the state interfere. In America we leave the teaching of personal religious beliefs to parents and private religious institutions.

12. Peter A. spews:

Please before we try to spin the rater simple idea of this thread remember the Democrats want to burn your Bible. And, yes, the RNC admits it sent out 250,000 of those choice little tracts to selected places.

I do not practice any religion but a complex set of moral standards, ethics, and concerns for my fellow beings. I mock and wonder at the whole of organized religions, especially those who take millions and millions for elaborate lifestyle and staff and buildings, little charity. I donate to missions and have a picture of Mother Theresa in my office. And I know little about the Catholic church except they seem to have increased their spending on politics greatly. Poor Mother.

The current crop of moral crusaders would be agast about how little I care about their beliefs or how secular my life is.

I really do fear a theocracy, in America or elsewhere. In Algeria the death squads started with the killing is of residiual French and now of the wrong kind of Muslims, whole villages, tens of thousands of people. All for the GOD, so very strange.

People came to America to escape war, famine, poverty, and the grip of political-religious opressors. Perhaps the wrong kind of Puritan, or Calvinist or Mormon.

But the reason we suceed in this stew of belief and non belief is because of the separation of church and a very secular society.

I don’t care for the concept of good and evil which often is simply you don’t follow my dogma on one topic or another. And I don’t think any god is obsessed with my need for a bigger house, more clothes and a much bigger lavish church building.

At base, much of what I hear passing for religion is not religion at all, but using the name of some god, or dogma to create a priest class riding on the backs of donors, and classic mind control. If some of these fundamentalist told their folks that we have been wrong all along and the earth really is oval, they would believe it.

I took ten turkeys to the mission, not becuse I need points in the God point system, but to forestall hunger. I must be that horror, the humanist.

13. Chuck spews:

so schools shall not sponsor any kind of official prayer (or even prayer time).>>>>>> When you have a moment of silence you arent establishing a “prayer” time, even if you are atheist, you can reflect upun the coming day, much like calestentics prepares you for PE or a football game

14. David spews:

If a mandatory moment of silence is truly evenhanded — neither encouraging nor discouraging prayer — it may be constitutional. See Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 105 S. Ct. 2479 (1985) (holding 6-3 that Alabama statute which mandated moment of silence at public school to encourage prayer was unconstitutional, but remaining silent on whether “pure” moment of silence scheme, with no bias in favor of prayer or any other mental process, would be constitutional.) Note that teachers (representing the state) cannot encourage prayer (or, e.g., guide the students by suggesting a topic of thought such as morality, faith, or God) and of course children who do not wish to pray cannot be harassed or ostracized as being anti-religious, amoral heathens. But why is this even a consideration? Don’t we think the schools could use those minutes more productively for, say, teaching? A person who needs 60 seconds in the day to organize their thoughts and prepare for the day’s events can do so at any time during the morning. They can take a minue before rising from bed, while in the shower, before breakfast, or on the way to school or work. Prayer and Bible study are not prohibited in public schools; they simply must be voluntary, student-initiated, and non-coercive, and must not bear the imprimatur of the State. Students can pray silently on their own during breaks or study periods. Why does there need to be a school-organized prayer/silence period?

15. Josef spews:

Students can pray silently on their own during breaks or study periods. Why does there need to be a school-organized prayer/silence period?

Comment by David— 11/26/04 @ 1:39 pm

I agree. Let the kids pray – but don’t force it on them like the Evangelical cowards would.

16. Jim spews:

Goldy, to relieve the recount rantings I will bite on your Christian baiting. I think it would be fair to say that a core evangelical belief (by definition) is that you are going to hell. Not just you, but John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and all Democrats.

But just so you don’t feel singled out, not only Democrats but also all Republicans are going to hell. This is a belief that stems not from an assignation of people, but from the character of God. If God is perfect and holy then how could imperfect people go to heaven and reside in eternity with God? As a matter of theology they cannot. Because of the choices we make we fall short of God’s standards of perfection. The result of that is that we will be forever separated from a pure and holy God. There is a gulf between God and people. All people have fallen short of God’s standards and will be eternally separated from him as a consequence of their own choices.

However there is good news. Because of God’s love for people he has provided a way to bridge this gulf. He provided a covering for our imperfections and provided a way to deal with it. Neither through our political beliefs nor through our sanctimony or self-righteousness can we bridge the gulf. What he offers is a free gift. We are not forced to accept it. Many have. This happens to be a core evangelical belief. You don’t have to believe that God provided a way to deal with the faults of people. You don’t have to believe in heaven or hell or God for that matter.

Whether you believe it or not does not effect reality or truth. Just because some believed St. Helens would not erupt in 1980, did not change the facts. It may have seemed narrow minded of geologists to say that unless you follow the road out of the blast area you would die. That wasn’t good news. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, right? Was it self-righteous of geologists to believe that if they followed the road out they would be saved? They were simply stating their beliefs in the evidence as they saw it. People were free to accept it or not.

Why do you feel a need to condemn or ridicule some who have accepted a remedy for a problem they perceive? You do not have to accept the heaven or hell paradigm, the problem of separation or the solution God provided. As for me, I believe I will go to heaven. Not because of any merit on my part, but because I have freely accepted God’s provision for a problem caused by my faults. It does not make me any better than any body else. It happens to be my belief based on what I have found to be a reliable testimony of the evidence. By acting on it I have found it to be true so far as I can tell. I do not condemn you, why do you condemn me as an evangelical for what I believe?

17. Chuck spews:

I suppose that an athlete could do his calistentics when he got out of bed instead of before the game or before PE but for many people to get there mind (or body) right it usually would take place before the “game”, contest or learning began. As for Christians thinking others are going to hell, as far as the ones I know (myself included) I would not presume anyone to be on the highway to hell (pun intended). I have no idea what is in a persons heart or his thoughts. To condemn one to hell is to attempt to be godlike that in itself is sinful (my understanding). That being said I think that a parent has a right to control the things that influence their child (CDs magazines as well as TV) BUT I dont think that parent has a right to control what you watch on TV. Part of the parental obligation is to tell your kid to change the channel or turn it off.

18. Mr. Cynical-dy spews:

Jim–I think Goldy and other Lefty’s perceive a threat from folks like you & I..and they will continue to feel that no matter what we say…until their heart’s are changed.

I think Goldy’s irrational fear is that Christians pull together in some way to support certain “philosophies” they disagree with. The irrational part is that it appears to be ok for other groups based on race, sexual orientation or those that believe in “Mother Earth/Father Sun and the Mountains & Rivers are our brothers & sisters”….it’s ok for these other groups to organize and support ideas & candidates.

The Leftist philosophy fails because it involves demonizing good people who disagree with them. Not all Democrats are Leftists. Just like not all Republicans are Christians. And not all Christians are far right-wing wacko’s…………..but all Leftists are wackos!!!!

19. Josef spews:

Thought you call might want to read this from The Reflector (DOT] com:

To The Editor:

What kind of “moral values” include corporate monopolies, control over the airwaves, manipulation of what would otherwise have been democratic elections?

We know that the moral values of the Democrats include helping people, and that’ exactly why the Democrats give us Social Security, minimum wage laws, worker safety regulations, child labor laws, overtime pay, water pollution control, air pollution controls, the Endangered Species Act, funding for and support of public education, and the preservation of millions of acres of national (public) land.

The “values” of the right-wing Republican Party is to disenfranchise, to privatize, to control, to elevate the lives of the very wealthy at the expense of the very poor, to legislate lifestyles, to promote hatred, especially hatred of anyone different from the way “they” life their lives (publicly at least), to the invading of privacy, to telling women what they are allowed to do with their own bodies, of self-centeredness, and of catering to the irrational right-wing religious bigots.

Republicans want to privatize “Social Security, steal public school money Giving it to private schools via vouchers), ignore and fight to dismantle the clean air, clean water and Endangered Species Acts. They’ve opposed the above when proposed. Mr. Bush tried to get rid of overtime pay altogether and that was in his first term.

When a Republican whines “moral values,” its translation is “bigotry of the bullies.” They have no morality and their “values” are in the minus column. Would Jesus match lockstep with the baneful Republican Party?

Melody Good
Camas, WA

20. Josef spews:

The address for the Melody Good letter to the editor is http://www.thereflector.com/PAGES/letters.html

21. Chuck spews:

Why is it when the name calling begins the people that starts the “bigotry” calling usually has the biggest problems in their personality? Why do people do this?

22. David spews:

Mr. Cynical”-dy” weighs in again: “The Leftist philosophy fails because it involves demonizing good people who disagree with them. He then concludes that: “all Leftists are wackos!!!!”

Pot. Kettle. black. ROTFL!

23. Mr. Cynical-dy spews:

David—I forgot one other thing about Leftists…they have no sense of humor!!! Leftist philosophy always results in high taxes & cost of living, all powerful bureaucratic micro-management of our day-to-day lives and obseiance to political correctness and “civility”. Either agree with the Leftist or be branded “uncivil”. I grew up in Madison Wisconsin. It’s been a Lefty town for as along as I can remember. They have had plenty of Leftist Mayors..one in particular, I think her name was Baumann, whenever someone disagreed with her, she would hurl herself on the ground screaming how offended she was. Madison then had T-Shirts made up that showed her flying on a broom and underneath it said something like
“MADISON–City of the Perpetually Offended”
Seems like Washington State, especially King County, ranks right up their with Mad-City!!!

24. Mr. Cynical-dy spews:

KING COUNTY—COUNTY OF THE PERPETUALLY OFFENDED!!!
Great ring!!!

25. Jim spews:

I think there may be some problems caused by the “broad strokes” some people use to paint those who might have a political view that is influenced by their religious belief system. I happen to live for most of the year in a Muslim country, Afghanistan, where there are people who also base their political views on a religious belief system. I see a difference however. For many of the “fundamentalist” Muslims they feel it is their duty to force others to accept their position. Their tactics go way beyond public debate and persuasion. I think most are aware of the intimidation, force and violence the Taliban used to force their particular beliefs on others.

Evangelicals in this country express views as well, some of which might be informed by their religious beliefs. The difference is in tactics. As an evangelical I believe I have a right to express my views regardless of whether they are informed by Marx or Lenin or Mark and Luke. I would like society to adopt many of my views. This includes my political views, religious views where they apply as well as who I think is the best football team. If we had a discussion on any of these topics I might try to persuade you to agree with me. However, I would listen to you and your views as well. As in the past, I have continually modified my views as I have listened to others. I would respect your right to hold your views as well as your right to try and persuade others to agree.

The difference between Afghanistan under the Taliban and America under the rule of the “red state’s” is that in American you have a right to disagree. You can try and persuade others that your views and values are superior. You might think Hollywood represents the values of America, while I might prefer Peoria’s. In Afghanistan being in the religious majority I would have the duty and obligation to change your beliefs. If you did not change, then I would have to slay you as an infidel. In American I have the right and privilege to persuade you to change your beliefs. If you do not succeed, then society may choose to adopt your beliefs and I will live with it.

In reading the letter by Melody Good, I find myself agreeing with her values of helping people. That is why I am risking my life in Afghanistan. But why is it that she feels her policies (democratic policies) are the only means to achieve those values? I happen to think some of those programs will have the opposite effect. She does not seem to be tolerant of any who would share her values yet have a different path to achieving them.

You can call those you disagree with names if you like. Country bumpkin, red neck, uneducated red-staters or racist, bigoted and bullying Christians. I am not sure that name-calling will persuade anybody to agree with your position. In fact on one level I am pleased with your tactics. Castigating and demonizing those who disagree will only ensure they you will be part of an ever-increasing minority.

26. Jim spews:

Why is it that those who most pride themselves on “tolerance” are really the “most intolerant” people around?

27. Josef spews:

Jim, as to,

“In reading the letter by Melody Good, I find myself agreeing with her values of helping people. That is why I am risking my life in Afghanistan. But why is it that she feels her policies (democratic policies) are the only means to achieve those values? I happen to think some of those programs will have the opposite effect. She does not seem to be tolerant of any who would share her values yet have a different path to achieving them.”

Well, I didn’t like the letter except it began to touch on my views AND it really started good discussion & debate. And what policies that she named do you think don’t work Jim?

28. David spews:

Cynical-dy says: “David—I forgot one other thing about Leftists…they have no sense of humor!!!”

Well, I don’t know these Marxist “Leftists” you’re talking about; maybe they don’t. But since you addressed the comment to me, you probably mean anybody to the left of, say, you. In which case you are confused: ROTFL means your “leftists are wackos” post was funny. For many reasons.

29. David spews:

Cynical-dy dubs King County the “COUNTY OF THE PERPETUALLY OFFENDED!!!” I believe Permanent Offense was actually based in Snohomish County. :)

30. Jim spews:

Josef,
To cite one example is minimum wage. On the surface it sounds reasonable. However, we live in a state that has the highest minimum rate in the country. I am concerned with the effect on small businesses. Are better off having fewer jobs because of higher minimum wage laws? I believe that most minimum wage jobs are stepping stones to gain experience and skills to progress to higher wage jobs. If we enact well meaning policies that reduce the number of opportunities, we are actually harming the people we would like to benefit.

I worked with apple growers in WA. One grower tried to build worker housing. He was not required to build it, but wanted to provide a better situation for his workers. He had a bid for $25,000. By the time he followed the guidelines and retrofits of six or seven state agencies he had put in over $40,000. He said he just could not afford to do that. So having to pay for handicapped access for orchard worker housing (an unnecessary burden) he ended up not building any more housing at all.

Welfare is another example although not specifically stated by Melody. It is well meaning to take care of the needy. However, the effect of welfare was to trap people in long term poverty. My sister was on welfare for 20 years. Any job she got would reduce her net benefits, so she stayed on welfare until she was “forced” or “motivated” to work by those mean spirited Pubbies.

Another recent example is nuclear freeze. Again a well meaning philosophy in the 80′s. Let’s freeze the number of nuclear weapons. I remember debating a colleague of mine at the time and suggesting we would be better off with a reduced number of nuclear weapons in the world rather than a frozen high number. Fortunately, RR won and the number of nuclear weapons is greatly reduced.

What is unfortunate is the attitude of many on the left. Many seem to think their values are superior and their policies flow from their values. If you don’t support their particular policy then you don’t support the value behind it. There is almost an “elite” or “condescending” attitude that if you disagree with their policy or advocate another way you are uncaring, mean spirited or just plain evil.

So Josef, these are examples of policies that are well meaning but actually do more harm than good IMHO. Disagree if you like, but I don’t think my positions merit being called an uncaring, rich favoring, peace hating bigot and bully like Melody alluded to.

31. Jim King spews:

Ya know, Melody is such a hoot. In 2003, in this state, the Republicans in the legislature (led by one Dino Rossi), preferred to fund programs for the developmentally disabled and the poorest of the poor, while Democrats gnashed their teeth over no pay raises for teacher households pulling in over $100,000 a year, which is what they would have preferred to fund. Republicans sought dental care for the poorest of the poor- Democrats are still griping about middle-class children not being given subsidized health care instead.

Of course, when changes are proposed to make it possible to get health care to the sons and daughters of the employees of small businesses, the Democrats killed those bills.

When Bill Clinton was President, the budget for national parks and other public lands declined- but with President Bush putting money into the deferred maintenance problem in those areas, the Democrats now gripe about him not hiring more seasonal workers instead. Of course, when the administration tries to get emergency shelters in the Olympics replaced due to the damage they’d sustained in the windstorms, the environmentalists sue to stop the replacement because they have to be lifted in with the very rare use of a helicopter.

Melody- your “we are good, you are bad” is boring, but you believing your own propaganda is… well, I feel sorry for you. Believing one’s own propaganda is one of the signs of advanced mental inacuity.

32. Mr. Cynical-dy spews:

Keep going Jim King–However, I’m afraid folks like Melody, Brent/Rudy and others of that ilk are somehow immune to understanding logic, common sense & facts. It is so easy for them to demonize those of us who disagree with them. They are predictable and boring. Challenging them is child’s play Jim. I kind of know what a cat must feel like after batting a little mouse around for a couple hours. He either finally let’s it go…or bites it’s head off!!!!!

33. Bennington spews:

Jim–”To cite one example is minimum wage. On the surface it sounds reasonable. However, we live in a state that has the highest minimum rate in the country. I am concerned with the effect on small businesses. Are better off having fewer jobs because of higher minimum wage laws? I believe that most minimum wage jobs are stepping stones to gain experience and skills to progress to higher wage jobs.” Do you know that in the state of Washington you do not have to pay a worker under 18 minimum wage? It would seem to me that hiring kids would answer both of your points above–help small businesses, and allow the worker to gain experience and skills.

Jim–”He had a bid for $25,000. By the time he followed the guidelines and retrofits of six or seven state agencies he had put in over $40,000. He said he just could not afford to do that. So having to pay for handicapped access for orchard worker housing (an unnecessary burden) he ended up not building any more housing at all.” Don’t tell me that this apple grower couldn’t figure out how to build housing at ground level so he handicap access wasn’t an issue. I would think that this would be do able in Eastern Washington.

Jim–”Welfare is another example although not specifically stated by Melody. It is well meaning to take care of the needy. However, the effect of welfare was to trap people in long term poverty. My sister was on welfare for 20 years. Any job she got would reduce her net benefits, so she stayed on welfare until she was “forced” or “motivated” to work by those mean spirited Pubbies.” Didn’t your sister’s situation show you that the welfare system needed some tweaking to help people transition from welfare to jobs that did pay benefits? Could you change jobs and lose your benefits and survive?

Jim–”Fortunately, RR won and the number of nuclear weapons is greatly reduced.” However, Mr. Bush is doing just the opposite and increasing our nuclear weapons as we write.

Everything needs some tweaking, either from the left or the right, to make it work for the good of the American citizens. We need a Compromise Party in America!

34. Josef spews:

Well, I did some good in posting that letter, eh?

Got some discussion and debate and definition going.

I like the “We need a Compromise Party in America!” line – sounds like me.

I also want to reply to “What is unfortunate is the attitude of many on the left. Many seem to think their values are superior and their policies flow from their values. If you don’t support their particular policy then you don’t support the value behind it. There is almost an “elite” or “condescending” attitude that if you disagree with their policy or advocate another way you are uncaring, mean spirited or just plain evil.”

Well, I’ve had that problem in opposing I-884. I felt it would wreck the state economy, do horrendous damage to my county (Skagit) and any other that’s a border economy (like Whatcom and Spokane for starters), the “accountability” was anything but, and it would give the Educrats holding my alma mater Skagit Valley College hostage more power. So because I opposed it – I got branded “anti-education.”

Again, this is a lively debate we need to have. And unlike another lively debate at SoundPolitics about immigration – we’re being relatively civil.

35. Chuck spews:

Ever noticed that after the minimum wage went to high for employees to pay, the $.99 Whopper went away? Well in our neck of the woods (Roy, Spanaway area) it is now getting harder and harder to find a BK. I notice that Oregon BKs still have the $.99 Whopper. I wonder how many entry level jobs are killed by this law?

36. Josef spews:

Comment by Chuck— 11/26/04 @ 9:28 pm

Good economics question.

37. Goldy spews:

Just so you all know, I was in transit for much of yesterday, so I didn’t have a chance to step into the discussion. (Bet you didn’t know I spent the week in Philadelphia? Didn’t want to let on that my house was empty for fear somebody might burn it down.)

Anyway, let me make a couple of things clear.

First of all, apparently few of you actually clicked the link to Kristoff’s column, as nobody mentioned that the springboard for my blog entry was the belief amongst many evangelicals that the “Rapture” is coming in our lifetime.

Now, as to who is demonizing who… well, it is these evangelicals who are teaching their children that people like me are going to Hell. Whereas all I did was accurately point out their beliefs. If you think that I am somehow demonizing you for your belief that I am deserving of eternal torment, then perhaps you need to look into your own heart for the source of your discomfort. In the words of Kyle, “the truth hurts.”

Now I don’t question anybody’s right to have these beliefs, or their right to speak them.

I am simply questioning whether these people can actually treat me justly and fairly in light of my eternal damnation. I question whether these are people with whom political compromise can be attained, or even attempted.

And I question if people, who believe that Armageddon is coming within our lifetime, can be trusted by the electorate to drive our foreign and domestic policy.

And as a Jew, I would like to point out to Christian evangelicals a bit of cultural relativism with which all Jews are intimately aware: you are a MINORITY. This is not a Christian world — it is not even a Christian nation. And while you may feel you are obliged to enforce your morality through the political sphere, imagine for a moment if it were Jews or Muslims (or Communists) who were seeking to impose their morality on you.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment is the most precious sentence written in the history of man. It is a beacon to the oppressed the world over, that gave refuge to a handful of my family, while the rest perished in pogroms and concentration camps. It is what makes America unique and special and worth dying for. And any attempt to diminish it — in any way — is an attack on our republic, more dangerous than a dozen 9/11′s.

Can a person respect my rights — so clearly and unequivocally stated by our Constitution — when they believe I am condemned by God? Or is working to fulfill the Prophesy more important than any document written by the hand of man?

38. Jim King spews:

Goldy- Pkease don’t paint all evangelicals with the brush of the Scofieldist heresy… The belief structure of the LaHaye types is barefuly a century old, and flows from the same thought patterns as most of the nineteenth century heresies of the imminent return of Christ. They all jump over those passages in the Scriptures that refer to no one knowing the time, and they forget all the passages regarding the mysteries of who will be among the saved. LaHaye’s books are in the same class of poorly written, inaccurate, low-class, pandering fiction as The DaVinci Code…

39. Goldy spews:

Jim, I’ve tried to make it clear that I was not intending to generalize. I am referring specifically to those evangelical Christians who believe “the Rapture” is imminent. (Though some of my comments are applicable to other Christians as well.) That was clearly the springboard for my comments.

That said, these people number in the millions… and our president may be one of them.

40. David spews:

From religion we have come to . . . parks!

Jim King claims (in response to Josef posting “Melody Good”‘s flamebait letter to the editor): “When Bill Clinton was President, the budget for national parks and other public lands declined- but with President Bush putting money into the deferred maintenance problem in those areas, the Democrats now gripe about him not hiring more seasonal workers instead.”

Now, I apologize for following this line of thought away from Goldy’s thesis here, but maybe this is about faith after all. In politics these days, as in religion, people see only truths that are consistent with their views. And in a polarized environment, partisans on both sides are eager to latch onto “facts” that support their beliefs.

For instance, take this little Parks budget flap. I don’t have the numbers from 1992 to the present, but an article in the Salt Lake Tribune quotes Denis Galvin, deputy director of the Park Service under President Clinton, stating that the overall National Park Service budget during the last five years of the Clinton administration *increased* by 9.4 percent — along with an expansion of the national parks the budget covers, while the first four Bush budgets also increased 1.6 percent — with a larger and larger portion of the budget going into building projects. “They’ve put all their increases pretty much in bricks and mortar and not the money it takes to run the parks,” Galvin said. Note, too, that these nominal increases in total dollars are a reduction in real terms when the budget “increases” fail to match inflation (currently 2-3%). On top of that, the White House has also forced the Park Service to absorb $171 million in costs for homeland security, salaries and storm damage in the last three years, further eroding the funds available on the ground. According to figures provided to the Pensacola News Journal by the National Park Service, 85 percent of all parks had lower operating budgets in 2004 than in 2003. We’ve seen the results: open positions, deferred maintenance, and scaled back operations, hours and ranger services.

But wait, this isn’t all about Bush! According to the National Resources Defense Council, citing figures from the government’s General Accountability Office, the total of deferred parks maintenance is at least $4 billion; the annual shortfall is reportedly $600 million. Back during the 2000 presidential campaign, George W. Bush criticized the Clinton administration’s neglect of our national parks, and pledged to spend $4.9 billion in new maintenance money to catch up. The NRDC says the Bush administration has spent less than $700 million, *continuing the tradition* of Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton in letting our parks deteriorate. It’s equal-opportunity neglect.

According to the NRDC, after adjusting for inflation, new parks and/or facilities, and new terrorism-related security demands, in real terms the park service has suffered a 20 percent cut in its budget in recent years.

So Democratic partisans who are aghast at Bush’s parks stewardship, and Republican partisans who demonize Clinton’s stewardship and tout Bush’s policy, are each seeing only part of the story; it seems plenty of us are suffering from faith-induced blindness to the whole picture. And parks, as just one example, are not going to get the attention and funding they deserve until we can get beyond that kind of absolutism. Just as with religious extremists who insist that they are absolutely right and others are damned, it seems that there are plenty of political extremists on both sides who are more interested in assigning blame and taking credit than in actual problem-solving.

41. Goldy spews:

David, I’m too tangental a person to mind others veering off subject, as long as there’s some connection.

Thanks for the detailed numbers… that’s exactly the type of information I hope others bring to this blog. Next time, if you can post links to your sources, it always helps keep things honest.

42. David spews:

Righty-o, links to cited & reviewed sources (even though the numbers aren’t the point here):

Salt Lake Tribune article
Pensacola News Journal editorial
Press release from retired Park Service workers group
Inflation data

43. Peter A. spews:

Jim King. I think your reading of the Bible is flawed. As I remember it, the early apostles thought the prospect of the literal return of Jesus was imminent. That is not 18-19 th centruy heresy theory, and if I remember correctly, believe that anticipation of early return set the stage for the Bible quote about none knowing the time, place etc.

The point is that if folks really believe in the Rapture sooner than later, then what difference does any long range futurst ideas or plans make?

We have not mentioned Mr. James Watt, that icon of the far right before this decade. As Sec. of the Interior he actually was quoted as saying, paraphrase, what difference does clearcutting make when the earth will soon be cleansed in the second coming. I think Mr Watt is a great example of what Goldy is saying is scary stuff.

I have a great friend, a woman I have know 30 years since we were small children and our familie were close. She is the best person, I mean the best person I have ever know in all respects. She is recently converted to Evangelical ideas and now is so stressed about her imperfections, the state of the world, and so forth it is affecting her health. So sad. If the right TV preacher told her to sell her house and go to a mountain somwhere in Montana to wait for the second coming, I fear she would. Guilt, fear, and anti- science and anti-thought are not good ingredients for a productive future.

By the way, I think Jesus came back some centuries ago. I am sure he did not like what he found and went on to another world. Do you really think he would owe an explanation.

44. Jim spews:

Goldie, you seem to be taking Christian theology quite personally and it doesn’t sound like you understand very clearly evangelical teaching. If you would permit me to give my understanding of evangelical teaching since you are referring to it. (I attended Fuller Theological Seminary, a very well regarded evangelical seminary, so I am not just making this up.) It is a fair interpretation of evangelical teaching to say that unless you happen to have lived a perfect life that you cannot reside in eternity in Heaven in God’s presence. That is due to the nature of God and the nature of people. He is a pure and holy God. If you have not lived a perfect life then you are not pure and holy. Another way of saying it is that God is not condemning you, your actions have. But you are not alone, no one who has fallen short of God’s standards can abide with Him in eternity. Our destiny because of our own actions is to be eternally separated from God – many would call that hell. But don’t take it personally – it applies to all people.

That is a basic problem that is recognized at least in three of the world’s great religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. As I understand Judaism the problem of separation from God is dealt with through keeping the Law and through sacrifices. I live in an Islamic country for most of the year and am awakened at 4:00am every morning by the call to prayer in Afghanistan. Keeping the five main tenets of Islam is how they deal with the problem. Christianity, as the fulfillment of Judaism, teaches that God has provided a perfect sacrifice as a means to cover our actions and forgive us. It is not based on our merit or good works. He will not force it on us. He freely offers it. It is a gift.

I can’t speak for all Christians, but in college I heard this for the first time. I believed what God had done was sufficient for taking care of the problem caused by my actions. Over a six month period my life was transformed from the inside out. A core teaching of Christianity is to love your neighbor love your enemies. I am not saying that is how I live my life in every respect, but it is my motivation. One definition of love is self sacrificing service. While I once lived for myself and my pleasures, today I live to attempt to rebuild a country that has been ravaged by war for 25 years.

I don’t think I am any better than you or any one else. I know many Muslims whose live their lives in a manner of honesty, integrity and sacrifice that puts my feeble attempts to shame. But I do believe I have fallen short of God’s standards, yet he has provided a way to deal with it. I consider that good news.

Since I live in this country I may choose to speak out on laws or programs that I think our society should adopt. You say, “And while you may feel you are obliged to enforce your morality through the political sphere, imagine for a moment if it were Jews or Muslims (or Communists) who were seeking to impose their morality on you.”

Many laws have a moral basis. Some will be motivated by my religious values of love, care for those in need and service to others. I am not in a position to “force” anyone to accept my position. But doesn’t the Constitution allow me the freedom to give my opinion on what laws and policies our country should follow regardless of whether they are motivated by my faith or not? I fully expect Jews, communists, Muslims, environmentalists, liberals, conservatives and all to give their opinion as well. My faith compels me to serve the less privileged. That is a religious value I hold. I think our country should adopt policies that carry this out at home and abroad. Not because they are religious, but I believe they are good for our society. Why do you say I am “enforcing my morality” by giving my onion in the political sphere? Would the Constitution in Goldy’s America be interpreted to silence my opinions simply because they are informed by the writings of my faith? I agree our country is not a Christian nation, but I am certainly glad that many of its laws and policies are motivated by values I share and that it does not yet show the intolerance to those values that I would fear in “Goldy’s America.”

45. Mr. Cynical-dy spews:

Jim–your comment is a blessing to all of us. Goldy, I hope you do not simply reject Jim’s words but give them a chance to work inside you. Goldy, I don’t know how important your faith is in your life. You & I worship the same God…we have different beliefs in “seeking” him. I have many Jewish friends & acquaintances…unfortunately many do not pursue their faith…they never study God’s word for guidance & direction. Instead they blow with the winds of human reason & desires….much like building their house on sinking sand instead of a firm foundation. Don’t get me wrong, God has given us free-will to make plenty of choices…it’s just that having a firm foundation to make those choices is more important.
Goldy, you brought up the issue that Christians have “condemned” you to hell. Please share with us what your Jewish faith means to you and how pro-actively you pursue that faith? I would sincerely like to hear.

46. Goldy spews:

Jim, I appreciate your detailed explanation of your interpretation of evangelical theology. Understand, I am not taking evangelical theology personally, but am merely referring to myself for illustrative purposes. It has more impact to say “I am going to Hell” then to refer to non-evangelicals in the abstract.

Also, to be more open about my personal beliefs than any of you have a right to expect, when I refer to myself as a Jew, I should say that I am a secular Jew. I identify myself ethnically and culturally as a Jew. I was educated and Bar Mitzvahed at a reformed synagogue, and my world view was profoundly shaped by Judaism. But I lack the spirituality gene, and thus am a born atheist.

Also, understand that I find the whole concept of Hell to be rather silly. There is no real mention of Hell in the Torah, and in general, no afterlife at all. With few exceptions, you die, and you’re dead. It is only in the wake of the Babylonian diaspora that the messianic theme starts to insert itself into Judaism. Perhaps it plays a more significant role in the mysticism of the Hassidic sects, but in reformed Judaism (and I believe conservative as well) I’d say Zionism is a much more dominant theme.

But then, lacking a central church to dictate doctrine, and relying on the Talmudic tradition, perhaps my interpretation of Judaism was uniquely shaped by the interpretation of my childhood Rabbi.

Getting back to your comments, I have never said anything about limiting the speech of evangelicals… in fact that is the kind of unmeasured red herring I expect from somebody like Cynicla-di-da, not you. It should be clear by now that I am a passionate, First Amendment libertarian.

And again, I was not referring to all evangelicals, but rather those who believe the Rapture is coming momentarily, and in the form described in the “Left Behind” series.

What I object to is evangelicals (or any other religious group) attempting to legislate their morality, be it abortion or birth control or prayer in school or teaching creationism in public schools or anything else. And I am downright frightened by a foreign policy towards Israel driven by evangelicals eagerly awaiting an imminent apocalypse.

And my question remains unanswered… can people treat me fairly and justly in this world, when they belief I am condemned to eternal torment in the next? Regardless of your theological teachings, should we not expect that this belief would lead many of these evangelicals to view me as a lesser person? After all, history is filled with religious wars.

So again, I caution those secular and non-evangelical elements of the Republican Party, that many of your allies in the far evangelical right, in the end, have just as much respect for you as they do for me.

47. DamnageD spews:

Its gonna be crowded down there… I wonder if they sell beer in the waiting line? If so, theres a round on me!

48. David spews:

Jim offers a heartfelt theological discourse, then says: “I think our country should adopt policies that carry [my religious values] out at home and abroad. Not because they are religious, but I believe they are good for our society. Why do you say I am ‘enforcing my morality’ by giving my onion in the political sphere? Would the Constitution in Goldy’s America be interpreted to silence my opinions simply because they are informed by the writings of my faith?”

Lately I have seen several examples of Christians complaining that they are being “silenced” or persecuted if they can’t enact their moral values into law (and thus impose them on everyone else). It seems misguided to me. Everyone — Christian, Jew, Muslim, atheist, Hindu alike (even Scientologist) — is welcome in this country to give their opinions (onions too, I suppose) in the political sphere, whether or not it’s religious. Express yourself! That encourages morality (as you see it) without “enforcing” it. Enacting laws based on religious tenets, though, is a different story. So preach your beliefs until you get laryngitis, or carpal tunnel syndrome, but be careful about demanding that the state enforce them.

49. Jim King spews:

No doubt that the early disciples expected the return very soon, but as that first generation passed, the orthodox view came to understanding that there would be much time pass- and that no one could know the time of His return. With the exception of much activity at the turn of the first millenium, there was NOT a lot of activity focused on “He’s coming back anytime now” until the 19th century, especially in America.

And that is also when the current concepts of “The Rapture” then “The Tribulation” were formulated. It is not just not orthodox- it has a definite impact on how people live, thinking that they will escape the tribulation to come. That is NOT what the saints have believed. historically. Why WE would be considered so good as to not need to prove our faith through suffering, I have yet to hear…

Goldy is quite right to be concerned about the outworking of some of these belief systems… Except most of those millions are to busy being comfortable to really do much…

50. Jim King spews:

And as for parks- each side keeps throwing different numbers out there, and the federal budget is designed to hide and obscure, not enlighten. But I think both sides on posts here have agreed- Bush emphasized the infrastructure, and put money there. Clinton did not. And I have no problem with not as much money being spent as promised, given the great discontinuity of plans caused by 9/11…

But I do have great problems with those who criticize this administration for starting on something that was previously neglected, when those criticisms come from those supporting them that failed to act. I much prefer the non-political ads I see on the tube pointing out the problem without trying to assess blame, and urging citizens to speak out to all the powers that be. I believe they feature Richard Dreyfus…

Who is also probably going to hell, but I would suggest his support for the wonder of our national parks should be used in his favor…

51. David spews:

Goldy’s right, nobody’s addressed his question about whether hard-core Evangelicals can treat him fairly and justly when they believe he’s condemned to hell. But it seems a bit overheated; is there any basis to think that Evangelicals only treat each other fairly and justly? My conjecture would be that Evangelicals who strive for religious virtue and take “love your neighbor” to heart would act that way toward all G-d’s children. (Besides, Goldy, they can’t reach out to you to save you if they’ve lost your trust by treating you badly.)

But I’m sure plenty of Evangelicals don’t put “love your neighbor” into practice (or, being imperfect, just don’t succeed) in many situations. So here’s my question: If you believe that G-d sent his Son Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice, a free gift to save you from your sins and imperfections, and that your good works and merit cannot save you — but your belief in and acceptance of Jesus can — what religious incentive do you have to live a moral life, treat others justly, and do good works, other than feeling good about it?

Judaism, as I understand it, is based on the Torah (written law) and Talmud (oral law) offering guidance on how to lead an ethical life per G-d’s instructions. Maybe I’m missing something, but are Evangelical beliefs based on being saved through faith, regardless of how you live your life?

52. Mr. Cynical-dy spews:

David–you are missing 1 very, very important element…it’s call JUDGMENT!! “Go and sin no more”!! Repenting & accepting Christ means changing your ways. I think part of the problem David is an oversimplified, misrepresentation of what is involved in being saved. It’s not a free pass to sin to your heart’s content. In the end, God will judge your heart.

53. Doug spews:

I’m getting in real late on this conversation, but had to say something about your interpretation of the first ammendment. While it is absolutely true that “The First Amendment is the most precious sentence written in the history of man.”, it is also true that it must be understood in the context of the Constitutional Republic. The prohibition is on congress (i.e. the federal government) establishing a national church. There was no prohibition on the states establishing state churches and, in fact, most of the original states had state churches prior to and after ratifying the Constitution.

Now, I’m not recommending the establishment of state churches. It’s a bad idea for the state and even worse for the church. However, the point is that the founding fathers never envisioned a “separation of church and state” in the sense that it is interpreted today. Religious expression was both allowed and expected in the public square.

We uphold freedom of religious expression not because we are a strictly secular society (like the French Revolution), but because we are a society built on Judeo-Christian values who believe that we are all created in the image of God and, therefore, free to make our own decisions in life.

The first amendment grants us freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.

54. Goldy spews:

The founding fathers were primarily deists, not practicing Christians a particular domination or another. Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington rarely, if ever, attended church. These were men of the enlightenment.

I am not familiar with your claim that the states had official state churches, before or after 1789. Please cite your source.

And even if they did, that is not how the Supreme Court has interpreted the First Amendment.

And finally, I am not opposed to religious expression in the public square… individuals are free to express their religious beliefs anywhere. But the state is not.

55. Jim spews:

David,
Wow, what an excellent and powerful statement! Your captured the essence of how so many are trying to silence a particular form of speech. People use the term “separation of church and state” so much they seem to forget it is not in the constitution per se, but was first used in a speech by a leading government official (I believe a president but I forget which one) to a church congregation to explain how the state was not going to interfere with the rights and freedom of expression of the church. You addressed Goldy’s earlier statements very well and I believe more than countered them.

I was a democrat during the Carter presidency and proud of the values that were being promoted by him and his administration. The party has since left me and embraced more the values of the Hollywood elite. The democratic party is only shooting itself in the foot by being so dismissive of and bigoted toward evangelicals and their perspective. There are many values that I know evangelicals esteem that could be promoted by the democratic party. It’s not pandering; it’s a true convergence of values. (giving, charity, care for the poor, support for the downtrodden, peace, forgiveness, sacrifice) With a little more “inclusive” perspective the democratic party could draw many evangelicals into partnership for supporting them. Instead, the democrats, including many posting on this board, seem to relish marginalizing evangelicals and castigating them because of the importance they put on values. Do they think laws are made in a moral vacuum? Laws codify the values of society including those who may have a religious basis and those who don’t. It is ironic. Such intolerance from people who are so proud of their self proclaimed “tolerance.” Perhaps losing a few more national elections will cause them to reconsider their approach.

Instead of further polarizing society by labeling and branding those who speak from an evangelical perspective of “being far right wing religious fundamentalists trying to force their views on others” the might realize they are people like them who have certain values like they do. Instead of getting so bent out of shape because they may have gotten some of their values from the teachings of Jesus, they might be better off if they listened, tried to understand and who knows they may even find enough common ground to invite them in to the Party. Everyone might wish, but I don’t think many expect all of their values and positions to be supported by one party. Personally I have to hold my nose at times when I vote Republican. But how can I support a party where so many disdain my beliefs and seek to silence my perspective under some false pretext of “separation of church and state?” Why not seek to understand and reach compromise? Believe me, evangelicals have to make many compromises when supporting republicans. The terms are not synonymous.

There was a question earlier about how could evangelicals work with someone they think is going to hell? It struck me as an ignorant question so I didn’t respond. Evangelicals by definition believe they have fallen short of God’s standards and because of that deserve to be eternally separated from God (in hell) They don’t believe they are forgiven because they are better than any one else or live a better life. They believe they are forgiven because they have agreed with God about their state and have accepted his provision for it. It is nonsensical to think they would not want to work with someone who they believe has earned the same status with God that they have. If anything, as I think David said, many would be happy to share the good news they have found.

56. Jim spews:

Final thought: If the democratic party was known as the party of social justice and human rights instead of the party of gay marriage and partial birth abortions who do you think would be in the White House and in control of Congress? Compromize to first trimester abortions and civil unions and the issues will shrink immensely. But its kind of popular to hold fast to an extreme postion and then tell those who disagree how intolerant they are. Until democrats show some tolerance and willingness to compromise, we might well be ruled by dim witted pubbies for quite some time.

57. David spews:

Thanks, Jim. I am impressed by the complexity and variety of religious and political views here; it’s refreshing. I myself could probably be best described as a radical centrist of sorts — as you can tell, I’m not much for absolutism, and I find that both sides of political battles usually have valid perspectives; I believe in standing up for practical solutions that synthesize the best ideas of each side. So I’m pleased to hear people from across the political spectrum in this forum voicing their views that both the Democrats and Republicans are marginalizing themselves (perhaps the D’s already did, and now the R’s are taking a crack at it) by taking extreme ideological positions and refusing to compromise. It will be interesting to see which party realizes that mistake first and decamps to the middle ground of common-sense good government. Maybe neither will, as “motivating the base” is the catchphrase of the day. Sigh.

I agree with what you said at 1:15 (sheesh, it’s past time for bed) — the Dems should wake up and realize they (and the values they cherish) share a lot in common with Evangelicals and ‘values voters’ of all stripes. Secular Democrats have to lose their suspicion of or disdain for religious people; they could be on the same side! (The same is true for G-d-fearing red staters who despise secular city folk, of course. The whole country could stand a bit more understanding.)

But I have to take issue with one thing, your concern that secular folks want to “silence [your] perspective under some false pretext of ‘separation of church and state.’” The doctrine of separation of church and state isn’t “some false pretext” (see post #11 above) and it can’t silence you or your perspective (see post #48 above); the First Amendment certainly isn’t about muffling religious speech! And because people of all political stripes and religious affiliations (including atheists, secular humanists, etc.) share general “religious” values like those you stated above, it is perfectly valid to want our government to be an instrument for those purposes. When consensus social goals and religious values coincide, it’s usually fine and dandy. But (at the same time as it guarantees your personal religious freedom) the First Amendment does require the government to stay out of religion. The government can’t endorse religious beliefs or support religious institutions or otherwise become entangled with religious activity. So where Americans’ religious beliefs differ, the government should stay out of it. It’s for us and our churches/synagogues/mosques/temples to act privately, and of course speak publicly…after all, it’s your Constitutionally protected right.

58. Jim spews:

David, I didn’t know your political or religious perspective, but I definitely saw you as a voice for moderation with some reasonable things to say to both sides. I think all sides could benefit from hearing your “radical centrist” opinions. I too, when I have occasion to voice my opinion on either Christian or conservative forums, will challenge them in a similar way. During the recount I came across this blog so decided to respond in a way that might provide a better understanding to a segment of society that I tend to affiliate with.

You may have misunderstood my use of the term “false pretext of separation of church and state.” Of course I agree with and support the establishment clause. By “false pretext” I did not mean that the concept of separation of church and state was false, especially related to the establishment of a national religion or the free exercise thereof. However, I hear too often that evangelicals are trying to “legislate morality” and “force their religious views” on others. Using the term “separation of church and state” to ridicule my public opinions because they my stem from my religious beliefs is a “false pretext” for keeping my views out of public debate. I believe it is wrong to kill and steal. My religious teachings inform my opinion on this. Of course I want to “legislate morality.” I think many laws are designed to do just that – write into legislation society’s morals. Taken as a whole, our laws reflect the values of society.

To use a more divisive example, Scott Peterson is facing the death penalty today, not because he killed his wife but because he killed his wife and unborn son, Conner. Society has determined that the unborn life had value. Ending that life is wrong and Scott will hear about the consequences of that today. I would be in favor of extending that protection of the unborn, certainly as regards to late term abortions. Instead of taking his wife to the bay, Scott could have taken her to a clinic and had a doctor extract Conner’s head, crush the skull and suck out his brain tissue. Conner would be just as dead, but instead of condemning him, society might well have paid for that procedure. I think that is wrong and would like to see a law against that except in extreme cases to protect the life of a mother.

When I speak out in public on morals or values I hold, I am not asking that people support them because they are religious values, but because they are mine. You don’t have to agree, but I believe I have a right to state my views regardless of where I obtained them. And because I want my positions to be adopted by others does not mean I am “forcing them” on others. All I can do is express my views, it is up to others to decide if they agree or not. If I can convince enough people of the soundness of my opinions, they just might be written into law. Laws are a reflection of society and its values.

59. Goldy spews:

There are many values that I know evangelicals esteem that could be promoted by the democratic party. Its not pandering; its a true convergence of values. (giving, charity, care for the poor, support for the downtrodden, peace, forgiveness, sacrifice)

These are core values of the Democratic Party.

School prayer, public funding of religious education (vouchers, charter schools), life begins at conception, abstinence as the major (or only) tenet of sex education, teaching creationism as an equal theory to evolution, highly restrictive obscenity laws, shifting taxpayer money from government run social services to faith based groups… none of these are values… these are policy objectives. And these are attempts to use government money and power to implement and promote religious doctrine. The whole “values” debate is a red herring.

And I don’t mean to be anti-Christian or anti-religious, but do you have any idea how arrogant Christian doctrine comes off to non-Christians? Do you have an inkling how offensive Christian proselytizing is to someone raised in a faith like Judaism, where converting others is an alien concept?

Do you know what it is like to be a child in a public school choir, forced to sing a dozen christmas songs during the so-called “winter” assembly, with “Dreidle-Dreidle” thrown in at the end to appease the handful of your fellow Jews? Or an atheist uncomfortable saying “under God” in the pledge of allegiance, but hypocritically obliging for fear of schoolyard retribution from your religious peers?

You accuse people like me of being intolerant, and then ask questions like, “Do they think laws are made in a moral vacuum?” Do you understand how arrogant and intolerant it appears to moral, ethical, non-believers like me to be told that there can be no morality without God? That in essence, without faith, I cannot be moral?

Democrats are not anti-Evangelical. The Party has millions of Evangelicals — the fact that Evangelical party loyalty tends to split on racial lines suggests that it is not values that separate the two parties, but policy. And it also suggests a much more profound and troubling schism than any perceived intolerance of Evangelicals at the hands of liberal Democrats.

Jim… I know you attempted a tempered, reasonable, and moderate statement, but you are still accusing Democrats of being intolerant, bigoted and amoral. And that’s simply not true. (At least, no more true than any other political party.)

And in answering my question, you continue to fail to see my perspective, because you are stuck in the mindset of a theist.

As I previously stated, I was born without the spirituality gene. The entire concept of the supernatural always seemed outrageous to me; I’ve often joked that “I don’t believe in ghosts, and I don’t believe in Holy Ghosts.”

Growing up I found it incomprehensible that other people — particularly smart, educated, scientific people — could possibly believe in something that on the surface seemed so silly. In fact, the issue of faith turned out to be a bit of an obsession, as without realizing it, the majority of the classes I took in college — history, philosophy, sociology, theology, anthropology — all seemed to focus in some way on religion.

It was in one of these seminars that a student across the table from me, whose comments I had really grown to respect, literally laughed at the idea that somebody could be an atheist. She had never met an atheist, and did not believe one could really exist. Even after I proclaimed my atheism, she simply could not accept that it was possible not to believe in God.

It had never occurred to me before that point that my incredulousness that an educated person could actually believe in God, could be equally matched by the incredulousness by a person of faith, that one could not.

That night, by coincidence, while reading for a philosophy course I came across Kierkegaard’s “leap of faith”, and I finally understood that I had been searching for a rational answer to something that simply was not rational. There is no proving or disproving the existence of God; you either take that leap of faith or you do not. Faith is a chasm too broad to span with mere reason.

Now Evangelicals will say that I am not condemned by God, that God offers salvation and that he has given me the free will to choose it. But this comes from the narrow perspective of a person with faith, for while I certainly have the free will to act morally (or not), I simply cannot choose to believe what I do not believe, and could no more accept Christ as my savior as I could accept Casper the Friendly Ghost.

You may find this incomprehensible. You may find this counter to the teachings of the Scripture. But I am what I am, and I cannot take that leap of faith.

So the question remains… can these fundamentalist, apocalyptic Evangelicals (not all Christians or all Evangelicals) who believe that I am not a moral person (for the Scriptures say that there can be no morality without God), and who believe that Christ will soon return to toss me wailing into the pits of eternal torment… can these people be honest partners in a political dialogue, when they have so demonized people like me in their religious teachings?

60. David spews:

Doug, re: “no prohibition on the states establishing state churches” — if that ever were the case, it isn’t now. Because of the 14th Amendment, as interpreted by the Supreme Court over the last 60 years or so, the states are required to follow the protections of the Bill of Rights (including the Establishment Clause).

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. — Am. 14 Sec. 1

61. Jim spews:

Goldy,
Your initial post referred to a question that is a matter of Christian doctrine. I am sorry if you are offended by a discussion of Christian doctrine by a Christian. The bible and Christian doctrine is not for non-Christians. The New Testament was written for believers. But how did you expect a discussion of theology to occur without bringing in a theological perspective?

Your whole question in my opinion is based on a false premise – that Christians believe you are not a moral person because you are not a Christian. I can’t speak for all Evangelicals, but being a Christian does not make you moral. And not being a Christian does not make you immoral.

To me it is like asking, “how could Goldy as a Jew enter into political discourse with me? I eat pork and Jews believe pork is unclean and therefore I am unclean because I eat pork. Pork eaters were to be cast out of the Jewish community. How could Goldy be an honest partner in debate if he feels I should be cast out of the community?

There are many parallels. First you state there are many levels of belief among Jews. I think you stated you are not a believing Jew. Second, the treatment of pork eaters applied to Jewish pork eaters not non Jewish people. Third, why mix a doctrinal discussion that is meant for Jews with a political discussion with non Jews? I would be mischaracterizing the beliefs of Jews as much as you are mischaracterizing the beliefs of Christians.

You misunderstood my statement “Do they think laws are made in a moral vacuum?” And you added “Do you understand how arrogant and intolerant it appears to moral, ethical, non-believers like me to be told that there can be no morality without God? That in essence, without faith, I cannot be moral?”

Your interpretation that there can be no morality without God is not at all what I was saying. What I meant was that a discussion of morals in society is a political discussion not a theological one. My point was that Christians have the right to bring their morals to the table as much as non Christians. My morals may be influenced by Jesus and yours by Muhammad, Ghandi or Moses. The discussion should be on the merits of the moral basis we want for our society. In that discussion I would very much respect your opinion because you appear to me to be a reasonable, honest and ethical person. In fact, I think we could have a good discussion and perhaps both benefit.

IMHO it takes more faith to believe we are here by a chance collection of random particles than to believe there is a Creator. I don’t have that much faith. However, I respect your faith because I believe it is founded on reason. I was not raised as a Christian but spent the first 20 years of my life believing much the same way you do. I looked down on Christians as weak people who needed a crutch. I didn’t. I recoiled at Boy Scout meetings when the Lord’s prayer was spoken. I had never heard it. But then while attending UCLA of all places, I came face to face with the person of Jesus and my life has forever been changed. My faith is based on the person and work of Jesus.

But I can comprehend how you feel, because I shared some of those same feelings. I believe some of the problem is based on an incorrect understanding of the beliefs of Christians and some on the rude behavior of people going by that name.

62. Goldy spews:

Jim, don’t get me wrong, I am not “offended by a discussion of Christian doctrine by a Christian.” I wouldn’t engage in this debate if I didn’t want to encourage it.

Your whole question in my opinion is based on a false premise that Christians believe you are not a moral person because you are not a Christian.

You may not subscribe to this premise, but other Christians do, and again I must restate that I am not talking about all Christians or all Evangelicals, but rather a particular subset (or should I say, “sub-sect”) of apocalyptic Evangelicals. That said, I have read and heard a number of Christian theologians from several denominations argue that there can be no morality without God, and my reading of the New Testament suggests this is a reasonable interpretation.

That said, if one believes that there can be no morality without God, and I deny the existence of God, how could one believe that I could act morally?

You may not be saying this… but other Christians are. I know I would have a problem trusting a person who I believed was immoral, and my guess is, people who believe that I am immoral would have trouble trusting me too.

But I can comprehend how you feel, because I shared some of those same feelings.

No you cannot, because you have been born again, and thus from personal experience and doctrine must assume that I could be too. I have had this discussion with Christian friends of mine, on a number of occasions, some who have been converted from staunch atheism, and they never give up hope that I can be saved. I appreciate that they hold onto this hope out of caring and love for me, and a genuine devotion to the teachings of Christ, but it shows a fundamental lack of understanding of my world view. (And if one more caring Christian gifts me a C.S. Lewis book, I could open my own book store.)