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The meaning of religious freedom

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  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Reference: Huffington Post, January 24, 2013: Religious Liberty Double Standards Indicated In New Poll

    The poll suggests that half of Americans worry that religious freedom is at risk. The findings are heavily weighed by the Christian evangelical component of the 1,008 people polled, which showed that 71 percent of that group was most likely to be concerned. Of particular significance is that 72 percent of evangelicals cited gays and lesbians as the group "most active in trying to remove Christian values from the country," while only 31 percent of all adults (including evangelicals) held this belief.

    The poll also revealed a double standard amongst the evangelicals. While 71 percent believe their religious freedoms are being eroded, "they also want Judeo-Christians to dominate the culture."

    None of us should be really surprised about this poll. Many members here have written about these same observations, and certainly during the Republican presidential primary campaign we had a heavy dosage of this thinking and rhetoric coming from the likes of Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, and Michele Bachman...not to mention TV pundits like Mike Huckabee on Fox News.

    While we can easily dismiss some of this thinking as "wackery" we should be very concerned. These people are zealots and have 100 percent certitude in their beliefs. They register to vote and vote in huge numbers on election day, not only in national elections, but also at the state and local level where they have essentially taken over government in many states. They perceive themselves as being on a crusade. Just look at all the state legislatures that are seeking to ban not only all forms of abortion, but also many of the other social services that are provided to women. Look at their attacks on public education, which they seek to defund in favor of charter schools and home schooling. They themselves are the product of home schooling...and when they head off to college it might be Liberty University or Regents University or another religious institution like it.

    They are the John Birch Society, the Tea Party, Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council (James Dobson), the American Family Association (Bryan Fisher), the Council for National Policy, the Christian Coalition, the Christian Broadcasting Network (Pat Robertson), the Family Channel and the 700 Club (Pat Robertson), and more. As can be seen in the poll above, not all evangelical groups or even people within these groups subscribe to every notion of their view of "traditional Christian values," so I don't want to stereotype all evangelicals with this brand of zealotry. However, if they remain silent within their religious community and let the others own the "bully pulpit" then they are just as guilty of the religious bigotry.

    Comments invited...
  • Democrat
    Lawrence, MA
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    Schmidt, Great insight into the pharisaical evangelical movement. I would only say that if they are worried about gays and liberals destroying Christian values they can rest easy. They've already accomplished that all by themselves.
  • Independent
    Plymouth, WI
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    When I hear the word Christian, I don't have the thoughts I once did when I was younger. Christians in general have given God a very bad name in all too many ways. When someone said they were a Christian years ago, I would think then they are a good person, now, I realize they are a religiously brainwashed Republican blind sheep. When I seen the 700 Club pushing Republican views for the first time, I knew right then, Christian does not mean a good person, it means ignorant Republican.

    The 700 Club and other Christian Churches use the same tactics as does the NRA, "give the majority a reason to fight and they will follow you blindly as you take their money." Christian money and political clubs have convinced their followers that they have many reasons to fight, fight Obama for being a Muslim because all Muslims are evil and against God, fight all Democrats because they want abortions and plan parent hood against God, fight the gays because they are different and against God, fight fight fight for what is right, is what the Christians preach now! Hmm, doesn't club and gang mean the same thing, when your primary goal is to fight? I won't be joining the
    700 Gang or any other gang club house(Christian Church) soon, gangs are for ignorant people not good people.

    Pretty sad, that the Christians forgot the basics of God and good and to love your neighbor, just so the Christian church can get more Republican votes and more blind followers giving them money to fight the evil they claim is hurting us, when in reality, the Christians and the Republicans have destroyed the American values we once lived for, all in the name of money greed and profit. Money greed and profit, that is what all gangs are about. I have no respect today for Gang Christian or any other establishment like the 700 Gang that uses the name of the lord in vein(for profit).
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    I like to put in my five cents; actually we have the same set up as the Muslims; they have their fanatics, we have ours. This typical example as given by "schmidt" is proof of that. For instance we have in FL that idiot who likes to burn Korans and some other idiots who makes movies to get Muslims pissed off. Therefore we should treat these fanatics as being totally un-American, because they endanger this country. 9/11 is a typical example of what can happen. Also our policies abroad should be such that we do not agitate them via our so called Christian fanatics. Personally is see these people as mental cases; driving with stickers on their cars etc. Religion in this country is way overdone; at least in Europe you do not hear anything about it except if you drive you see a lot less churches than here; sure you have some oddball sects there as well, but they do not disturb daily life, or are on a Fox like station. No in the US this all way overdone and gets way too much put in the limelight. Religions are fine but should not infringe on the freedom of others or create wars, or use money for influence and power building like the Mormons and Catholics. Do not forget if you gamble in Vegas you actually help funding the Mormon church.
  • Democrat
    Lawrence, MA
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    United, Your frustration with organized Christianity is understandable. The mainstream churches today are as far removed from the teachings of Christ, I believe, as it is possible to get....But if you set aside your anger for a moment I'm sure you'll see that it isn't quite fair to tar everyone
    who believes in the teachings of Christ with the same brush. There are , and have been in our times, great examples of Christians who actrually lived out their lives according to Christ's teaching.....Daniel and Phillip Berrigan, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, Oscar Romero and many others.
    Sadly, in our times, a person often has to disassociate themesleves from the established church in order to be a witness to that teaching. But it is possible to try to live a Christian life without attaching oneself to these bogus organizations......I don't think we should allow these charlatans to claim exclusive rights to the name "Christian". They are not going to take away my right to consider myself one even though I wouldn't stand with them if my life depended on it.
  • Other Party
    Nebraska
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    All Christians are not the same anymore than all athiests are the same, or all Democrats are the same, or all Republicans are the same...etc. All kinds of people make up this crazy world., and there are all kinds of Christians just like there are all kinds in other groups.
  • Independent
    Plymouth, WI
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    Maybe I am wrong for saying gang christian, you guys are right, not all Christians are part of the 700 gang. But like with any religion, the extremist of that religion will make the most noise and the ones to be heard by the rest of the world, sad, thanks to the 700 gang and other christian gangs like them, Christians too have been getting a bad name, all Christians in some eyes are bad people, thanks to the radical Christians.
  • Strongly Liberal
    Independent
    Seattle, WA
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    Schmidt Wrote: Reference: Huffington Post, January 24, 2013: Religious Liberty Double Standards Indicated In New Poll

    The poll suggests that half of Americans worry that religious freedom is at risk. The findings are heavily weighed by the Christian evangelical component of the 1,008 people polled, which showed that 71 percent of that group was most likely to be concerned. Of particular significance is that 72 percent of evangelicals cited gays and lesbians as the group "most active in trying to remove Christian values from the country," while only 31 percent of all adults (including evangelicals) held this belief.

    The poll also revealed a double standard amongst the evangelicals. While 71 percent believe their religious freedoms are being eroded, "they also want Judeo-Christians to dominate the culture."

    None of us should be really surprised about this poll. Many members here have written about these same observations, and certainly during the Republican presidential primary campaign we had a heavy dosage of this thinking and rhetoric coming from the likes of Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, and Michele Bachman...not to mention TV pundits like Mike Huckabee on Fox News.

    While we can easily dismiss some of this thinking as "wackery" we should be very concerned. These people are zealots and have 100 percent certitude in their beliefs. They register to vote and vote in huge numbers on election day, not only in national elections, but also at the state and local level where they have essentially taken over government in many states. They perceive themselves as being on a crusade. Just look at all the state legislatures that are seeking to ban not only all forms of abortion, but also many of the other social services that are provided to women. Look at their attacks on public education, which they seek to defund in favor of charter schools and home schooling. They themselves are the product of home schooling...and when they head off to college it might be Liberty University or Regents University or another religious institution like it.

    They are the John Birch Society, the Tea Party, Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council (James Dobson), the American Family Association (Bryan Fisher), the Council for National Policy, the Christian Coalition, the Christian Broadcasting Network (Pat Robertson), the Family Channel and the 700 Club (Pat Robertson), and more. As can be seen in the poll above, not all evangelical groups or even people within these groups subscribe to every notion of their view of "traditional Christian values," so I don't want to stereotype all evangelicals with this brand of zealotry. However, if they remain silent within their religious community and let the others own the "bully pulpit" then they are just as guilty of the religious bigotry.

    Comments invited...
    Schmidt,

    You didn't mention David Barton, a Texas evangelical preacher who fancies himself a "historian" but is actually a revisionist like Pat Robertson, claiming that the Founders wanted America to be "The Land of Jesus." Barton even hosts huge televised tours of the main government buildings in Washington D.C. for bus loads of evangelicals, and he points our "evidence" to prove his claims, completely ignoring or denying the actual words and intent of the Founders regarding religion.

    As for the poll, I find it amazingly ironic that the evangelicals would be claiming that religious freedom is threatened by others, because it is the "Christian Right" that has been indulging in very aggressive, theocratic political action for the last 30 years, ignoring not only the intent of the Founders, but also violating Article 6 and the 1st Amendment of the Constitution, as well as IRS tax codes preventing leaders of tax exempt churches and religious organizations from endorsing political candidates.

    It is in fact the Theocrats who lead the "Christian Right" and the "Christian Domionionists" who threaten freedom of religion in America.
    --
  • Independent
    Plymouth, WI
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    Guy Dwyer
    This belief of the founding fathers being Christian must of been taken up by other gang club houses, a friend not long ago tried to tell me the founding fathers were Christian so government and religion are connected, I corrected him, saying the majority of the founding fathers believed in God but were not a member of any religion.

    The Christians are desperate for new material and new reasons to take your money, so this is the stuff they come up with, become a political power to get money. The extreme Christians are just like the NRA, "give your followers a reason to fight and they will follow you blindly as you take their money." The extreme Christians want to fight in the name of Jesus, the only thing worse than that is an extreme Christian with a NRA approved gun a hiding. How long will it be before the NRA starts another crusade along side the Extreme Christians, or maybe they already did, there is a lot of unsolved death by gun out there?

    For sure it is time to tax the christian gang club houses, at least make them pay a little for the political lies they are telling. Hmm, I thought Christians were honest people, but the proof is in the pudding that they are not honorable, breaking their tax exempt policies is not being honest. If they are dishonest once, they will be dishonest twice and so on and so forth. With this type of religion out there, I am surprised that there is not a lot more pgr and Dutch out there(atheist). Religion gives God a bad name, at least the extreme Christians do, all in the name of money.
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    "united" you got it right "all in the name of money" This started already in the very early days of the catholic church in Rome around year 800.
    They needed money to built their own first church; from there onwards the money stream flowed because of plundering and the Templar run wars.
    Starting around the year 1400, huge cathedrals were being built from blood money and plastered with gold on the inside. Go visit one of these cathedrals and you will be impressed. But the "buck" did not stop there; right now they built, like a Roman temple, a brand new mult-million cathedral in Naples FL. some rich people likely put in huge sums. Then we have the Mormon cult; they love gamblers because they own most of Vegas. And do not forget Romney and his fortunes, who puts also his contribution in the collection plate!!
    So finally you admit churches are run by money, not by "god's. So what do you get for your money? And what do they get for it? I guess you get a lot of "Alice in Wonderland" stories!! They get a nice house, car, salary or become millionairs in their tax free jobs, which produces nothing but hot air. Easyist job in the world I guess.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    Great conversation everyone. I love studying the history of both religion and politics and how they have become more intertwined that our founders EVER imagined. The religious right has done a phenomenal job in rewriting what our founders intended and they have more than enough people that will believe whatever they say. It is true that most, but not all, of our founders practiced some form of religion. It is also true that they wanted to separate their religious beliefs from the act of governing a country.

    The most interesting part of it all is the way that the religious right has hijacked religion in general. I am not religious, but I have read Jesus' teachings many times and I just wish that the religious right actually practiced what Jesus preached. I wouldn't mind if we helped the poor and weak among us. As Jesus is quoted as saying in Mark 23-25: 23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! 24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

    The tragedy of modern day organized religion is that many people that claim they are religious don't understand, and quite often don't bother trying to understand, what it is that they are worshiping. The right to religious freedom is just that: the right to worship WHATEVER or WHOEVER a person desires. If only the evangelical Christians out there understood that. They are free to worship the way that they want to. They are NOT free to force it upon me.
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    "Jared" sure everyone can believe whatever they want to believe; however the Constitution clearly states the seperation between church and state, so I wonder why poiticians like the lunatics from Kentucky meddle with their views into our government. Like the anti abortion preachings by Rand Paul etc. Sorry to say your statements from "jesus" were not from him, but his disciples whom wrote that in Rome; jesus himself never wrote one word because he could not write and never did.
  • Strongly Liberal
    Independent
    Seattle, WA
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    unitedmajority Wrote: Guy Dwyer
    This belief of the founding fathers being Christian must of been taken up by other gang club houses, a friend not long ago tried to tell me the founding fathers were Christian so government and religion are connected, I corrected him, saying the majority of the founding fathers believed in God but were not a member of any religion.

    The Christians are desperate for new material and new reasons to take your money, so this is the stuff they come up with, become a political power to get money. The extreme Christians are just like the NRA, "give your followers a reason to fight and they will follow you blindly as you take their money." The extreme Christians want to fight in the name of Jesus, the only thing worse than that is an extreme Christian with a NRA approved gun a hiding. How long will it be before the NRA starts another crusade along side the Extreme Christians, or maybe they already did, there is a lot of unsolved death by gun out there?

    For sure it is time to tax the christian gang club houses, at least make them pay a little for the political lies they are telling. Hmm, I thought Christians were honest people, but the proof is in the pudding that they are not honorable, breaking their tax exempt policies is not being honest. If they are dishonest once, they will be dishonest twice and so on and so forth. With this type of religion out there, I am surprised that there is not a lot more pgr and Dutch out there(atheist). Religion gives God a bad name, at least the extreme Christians do, all in the name of money.
    Your last sentence providing qualification is good, because it is not religion that gives God a bad name. It's hypocritical extremists who masquerade as Christians that give Christianity a bad name. And it's the same with hypocrites who masquerade as Jews or Muslims.

    Every religion has its true, faithful adherents, along with its pretenders, its hypocrites, and its bigots, who pretend to be religious for various reasons.

    It seems to me that our duty now is to call a spade a spade, without too much generalization.
  • Strongly Liberal
    Independent
    Seattle, WA
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    Dutch Wrote: "Jared" ... Sorry to say your statements from "jesus" [according to the Gospel of Mark] were not from him, but his disciples whom wrote that in Rome; jesus himself never wrote one word because he could not write and never did.
    Dutch,

    Your comment about the intent of the Founders regarding freedom of religion is right on. But as for the book of Mark, I think I should share what I've learned.

    According to Marcus Borg, a member of the prestigious Jesus Seminar and a leading expert on the historical Jesus, the "Gospel of Mark" was written around the year 70 CE, and though the location is uncertain, the best guess is a Christian community near the northern border of Galilee. And the majority of researchers and scholars agree with Borg.

    Most people don't realize it, but the New Testament (Christian Canon) as we know it was not written in the order that we see in the Bible. That is, Matthew was not the first Christian gospel. Mark was the first gospel, and it was written in 70 CE, 20 years after Paul had already written his first seven epistles beginning in 50 CE.

    The Gospel of "Mark" does not name the author, either. "The Gospel According to Mark" is not written at the top of the first page. So also the authors of Matthew, Luke, and John did not name themselves. Names were assigned only in the second century when the existence of several gospels required a way of distinguishing among them.

    By the way, there's a pretty good article about it at HuffingtonPost by Borg, at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marcus-borg/a-chronological-new-testament_b_18230...l
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    "guy" thanks I read that article; however as far as I gather, all was written after his death, so there must be a lot of "hearsay" etc. Furthermore I do not believe that he ever wrote something himself , otherwise this would have been a huge artifact and stored in a sealed box in the Vatican!!
    Anyway I believe "abortion" was not a subject in any of these chapters of these individual writers.