# What is the Faith?

1. Nov 3, 2004

### Tatum

I heard that's what won the election for Bush. What exactly do these people that voted for him have faith in?

God
Pro-life
No to same sex marriage
what else?

2. Nov 3, 2004

### graphic7

It's mostly moral issues concerning Christianity, such as gay marriage and abortion.

3. Nov 3, 2004

### ms. confused

Who knows? One thing's for sure: they're not seeing the whole picture. Bush is a devoted churchgoer and God-believer, but he is also responsible for thousands of deaths which include those of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and the very Iraqis he, himself, said he would "liberate" and save. That country is complete pandemonium since it was invaded and yet he still is claiming victory. I don't get it; especially when he says it's-and I quote- "a catastophic success". What the heck? Does anybody have a sensible definition of that?

4. Nov 3, 2004

Staff Emeritus
Apparently not. He is seldom seen at church.

5. Nov 3, 2004

### ms. confused

Then why does he not respect the line that divides church and state in politics? Why does he insist on banning gay marriage, stem cell research, and abortion?

6. Nov 3, 2004

### Staff: Mentor

Because that line isn't as well-defined as you would like, ms. confused. It has to be drawn somewhere and on those specific issues, people tend to draw the line based on their religious beliefs (or lack thereof).

7. Nov 4, 2004

### BobG

It is a very fuzzy line. Both form an important part of our culture. It's hard to even define what constitutes a division between church and state.

If the ACLU and others are bringing lawsuits to ban the pledge of allegiance from school (or at least to delete the "under God" part*) and to remove religous symbols from the Los Angeles city seal, their actions begin to look more like a war against religion than separation between church and state; that one religion, even if that religion happens to be called atheism, is being given preference over all the others.

I think separation of church and state means the government should try to stay completely out of the issue of religion. That means religious beliefs don't turn into laws and it means the government doesn't try to eradicate religion from public culture. And things like the pledge of allegiance, the ten commandents posted in a public place, city seals depicting a city's history are cultural items which have nothing to do with laws.

Going too far to eradicate all signs of religion from our public culture is at least part of the reason Bush was able to find such an energetic base. The number of anti-gay marriage laws and amendments passed during this last election is an even stronger sign that efforts to separate church and state may have passed way beyond a common sense level - while an energized religous right may have initiated the amendments, a majority of the voters had to either identify with their cause or fear that things had reached a point where their own religous beliefs were threatened in order for them to be passed.

*Actually, the anti-religion crowd picked a vulnerable target on this one. Adding the "under God" part was part of McCarthy's anti-communist movement - a movement that looks pretty shameful in retrospect.

8. Nov 4, 2004

### BobG

I heard something interesting about this on the radio yesterday (so I don't know if his facts were straight). On some global survey on cultural beliefs throughout the world, the US and Arab nations actually have more in common with each other than the US and Europe do.

If you substituted Christianity for Muslim, their core beliefs towards justice, religion, etc would be almost identical with only two significant differences - the role of women in society and sexual attitudes.

People here have a hard time understanding the difference between Islamic fundamentalist groups that see terrorism as a legitimate means of protecting their beliefs and the more mainstream Islamic crowd that, while certainly not endorsing the actions of terrorists, find it hard not to identify with at least some of their beliefs.

Bush's political base may have been the extreme end of the religous spectrum, but he had to pull in quite a few mainstream Americans, as well.

9. Nov 4, 2004

### vanesch

Staff Emeritus
One cannot treat atheism on equality with religion, although religious people always like to do so, in order to be able to argue on equal footings. Atheism DOES NOT require you to handle according to obscure rituals defined in ancient scriptures, all organized religions do. It is their basis of existance.

The state should indeed take on an atheist attitude if it wants to separate religion from state matters, because it is the only way to be completely symmetrical with respect to any religion (which is the essence of the separation of state and religion). Every time the state takes an action, the question should be asked: will a christian, a muslim, a raelian, a budhist or a celtic druide, an ancient egyptian or an ancient greek, purely on the basis of his religion, be treated equally by this action ? Will he be equally happy or offended ?
If the answer is yes, then that action is to be considered as separated from religious considerations. A state that is separated from religion can only take such actions.
From the moment you do not do such a thing, you are in the same category as theocracies like the Taliban regime or Saoudi Arabia, where people have their hands cut off when they steal, and women are stoned to death because they have been cheating (or are accused of doing so).

10. Nov 4, 2004

### BobG

Spoken like Mr. Spock.

The first paragraph is just saying one belief system is better than the other because of the source documents. It's still a belief system.

The second and third could be badly miscontrued. If all religions were banned and anyone caught participating in a religous activity tossed in prison, then all religions would be being treated equally. It would be hard to say that banning religions was separated from religous considerations.

The last may be true, at least to a certain extent, even if our customs are different than the Taliban's or Saudi Arabia.

Logic is a good thing, but humans are as much irrational beings as they are rational beings (otherwise, why would anyone ever fall in love?). Saying they should become purely rational beings won't make them so. Any functional system pretty much has to acknowledge and accomodate the fact that a fairly large percentage of decisions are going to be made for entirely irrational reasons.

Regardless of the rightness or wrongness, a large number of voters supported a huge swing of the pendulum towards more traditional religous values. An optimistic person from the religous right may see a turning point towards an ultimate victory, while an optimistic atheist may see removing religous symbols from city seals as a victory of logic over religion.

A neutral cynical observer may see the whole struggle as something akin to finding:

$$\lim_{x\rightarrow \infty }sin x$$

Probably, a more realistic view is:

$$\lim_{x\rightarrow \infty } \frac{sin x}{x}$$

Regardless of the temporary swings, wind up converging somewhere in the middle, eventually.

11. Nov 4, 2004

### Staff: Mentor

I took a Constitutional law class in college where the texbook (biased?) argued that the intent of the 1st Amendment was simply to allow people to do what they wanted with religion on their own time, not that it needed to be removed from government. That's not a view I'd heard before, but the fact that God is cited an awful lot in government implies it may well be true. Either way, the last 20 years have indeed seen a trasition from "freedom of religion" to "freedom from religion." I'm not really sure where to draw the line, but I do believe is gone too far.
The problem is (and this is what the course focused on) that this is simply an impossible goal. Government employees are people and people have religious beilefs. Therefore, religious beliefs are going to enter into their public actions. Also, public and private organizations are going to have to mesh with government for issues like taxes and membership rights. There is just no getting around that.

So the line has to be drawn, and in the traditional way: case by case by the US Supreme Court and via Constitutional amendment.

Gay marriage is an issue where government does need to be involved one way or another. There are two kinds of marriage: civil and religious, and government must decide what constitutes a civil union, and that constitutes a church vs state interface.

12. Nov 4, 2004

### setAI

Rove/Bush expoited evangelical christianity to win the election- specifically appealing to the conservative issues of gays and abortion- HOWEVER the GOP abviously did not promote the christian values against poverty [which is considered the most important value in the bible] against war and againt capital punishment-

so it was more of a subtle political manipualtion os SPECIFIC christian values which jive with the GOP agenda- NOT simply evangelical christian religion by itself

13. Nov 5, 2004

### Moonbear

Staff Emeritus
My understanding of the separation of church and state comes from the recognition this country was founded by people who were religious, but whose religion was inconsistent with a state-mandated religion (i.e., Church of England). So, in part, you are correct that this amendment prevents the government from telling people how to practice their religion or from mandating a religion.

Another part is when one person's religious beliefs influence their policy-making such that government is then supportive of that religion while enforcing rules that go against someone else's religion, this would conflict with the freedom of religion.

The tricky part is what happens when someone has no religion (i.e., atheists)? If they have no religion, then are religion-based laws going against their religious beliefs? It would be difficult to argue this. Anyone up for creating a religion that believes in the sacred ritual of gay marriage and supports abortion? If such a religion existed, then one could argue all laws banning these would be overturned as an unconstitutional infringement on those religious beliefs. That's really the crux of the problem. You can't argue infringement of religious beliefs if you have no religious beliefs. I don't think atheists were even considered a possibility when the Constitution was written, and thus it has no protection for them. I consider this a flaw in the Constitution, but have yet to come up with any good ideas on how to fix it.

14. Nov 5, 2004

### dekoi

Bush won because people seem to have some comfort in permanance. Change is foreign to some; some are even fearful of it.

I hope it has nothing to do with Bush's "faith". He is only a Cafeteria Christian.

15. Nov 5, 2004

### Staff: Mentor

It's because agnostics and atheists are not a cohesive group, they aren't an organization, they are not a faction to be dealt with, unlike organized religion that has people meeting once or twice weekly devoting time to impose their beliefs on others.

Freedom of religion should cover those who seek not to join an organized religion, something which, as you mentioned, was not considered when the constitution was written. Someone not belonging to a traditional religion was considered to worship Satan (i.e., a witch) and freedom of religion back then didn't seem to include religions that the majority didn't approve of.

Last edited: Nov 5, 2004
16. Nov 6, 2004

### Staff: Mentor

I guess if atheism is a religion, then "not collecting stamps" is a hobby. Give me a break.

And you think that having public officials putting up copies of "the" ten commandments on public property as an extension of their official status demonstrates "staying completely out of the issue of religion"???? How about about religious neutrality?

17. Nov 6, 2004

### Dayle Record

The Continents of North And South America were populated when business men, and aristocrats, and refugees from Monarchy and Religion, started to settle here. Hapless courtiers were sent here to accumulate wealth for their Kings, Queens, and Churches.

With the establishment of the divine right of kings, the European Monarchies with the whole hearted support of the church, enslaved Europe. The English church did the same thing. Protestants to this, both stayed in Europe, and migrated to the new colonies.

Once the American revolution was over, the founding fathers, fresh off of a millennium of State sponsored religion, and its horrible social caste system, set up a constitutional government that guaranteed all Americans they would not have to endure either government by religion, or mistreatment regarding their religious preferences, meted out by the new government of the United States. This philosophy of government also made sure to diminish the divisiveness that is created in government, when religions at odds, use the resources of government, that should belong to all of the governed.

It sets a dangerous precedent to govern by religion, in an alleged democracy, since who knows which religion will grow in number, and make areas of the US unpleasant to reside in, with the enactment of religious law that diminishes human rights?

I live in Utah. The predominant religion here, wears what is called Temple Garments, that is a kind of short sleeved underwear, oh that covers approximately what a scoop necked t shirt, and bike shorts would cover. It is expected that outer clothing will cover those garments. In many corporate situations in Utah, the dress code states the women, will not wear sleeveless blouses. I asked someone that I know isn't clever enough to hide her agendas, what she thought about the dress code, she said that she wears her temple garments, and she doesn't think it is fair for women to seem more sexually appealing than she, because they can bare their arms, in the workplace. That may not seem like much to you, but the LDS Church, has what is called a living prophet whose dictates become religious law. I consider the modern day Mormons very reasonable and nice people, but a new prophet could at any time, dictate that women will cover their heads, or never leave the home. Then dress codes in my state would change, believe me. I live on an island embedded in a theocracy. Salt Lake City is a Democratic town, the University Of Utah attracts a lot of professionals, and the city its self, stays about 30%LDS, far different than the rest of the State. Yet, the climate here is still extremely dominated by the Church. Most of the media is church owned or tows church lines. News is trivialized or unreported, or reduced to sordid tales, about any minority group that can be found to properly screw up. Theocracy bites, because if it were a math problem, it it were an engineering problem, then there would be a very shifting foundation for any edifice built, that was meant to serve everyone, and endure.

To build a proper edifice be it a temple or a prison, one must find bedrock that will properly meet the downward force of a foundation and walls. For every action there is and equal and opposite reaction. In this nation, the bedrock, has to be the good of every American.

Does every citizen of every belief and faith and status need this building?
Do these words respectfully communicate to every citizen of every belief, faith, and status?
Does this public education system meet the secular need of a democracy for an educated public, the need of every child to be fluent in the language and culture of a democracy?

Faith is a very personal item, in a very personal inventory of attributes. Though an enormous number of individuals may gather and proclaim one faith, true faith is a singular connection, a commitment to that connection. It is not a matter for government, or legislation.

Will they come to my house, and make my lips move in some religiously prescribed manner? Will they come to my school, and sequester my child in a room to instruct them in matters of faith, yes they will, when faith masquerades as science, when faith masquerades as law, when faith masquerades as proper behavior, in what is supposed to be a secular society.

Secular government was wisely created, to protect us from self serving "faith".

Faith is an entirely open ended equation, not available for definition by any singular entity. Faith is not a solid, a liquid or a gas. Faith is an energy state, the most clear definition, might be, calling it a mind set. The government cannot define spirit, or calling, or God, or the intent of God. That is a matter of faith.

Faith based is not something for government to be involved in, because government may not either define or sanction one faith or another, one faith over another, and still be the Government Of The United States Of America.

18. Nov 6, 2004

### Kerrie

Staff Emeritus
very well put Moonbear...as for the gay marriage (at least here in Oregon), our Measure 36 will put a ban on gay marriage in the constitution...with this being allowed, couldn't we change the constitution for almost anything? or do we continue to uphold the religious influence of the 18th century? do we just alter the constitution to suit those in power instead? oops, already beginning to happen...

during the 18th century, it was assumed everyone was some sort of christian, thus our constitution was based on this assumption. but because of the "freedom of religion" clause, it sort of puts us in the hypocritical spot banning certian immoral deeds because it is considered against the "morals" of the United States. who decides these morals? hopefully the people, as our constitution does start as "We the People..."

also, what i find interesting is, during a visit from GWB himself to Southern Oregon, a few teachers had T shirts saying "Protect our Civil Liberties" and were demanded to leave risking arrest from the police. are we upholding the constitution here? these were peaceful teachers excercising their freedom of speech and the message was not for or against Bush. however, because it did not express an opinion like that of the Bush Admin, they were told to leave. this is an example of why America is divided. what will Bush do about it? maybe he has faith we will all come together....

19. Nov 6, 2004

No way!! I can't believe that!!
he belongs in 1800 - how can he consent to people walking around with guns, and yet he can't see that a woman may want an abortion or that gay people might want to get married... he's dangerous.

20. Nov 7, 2004

### vanesch

Staff Emeritus
I take that as a compliment :approuve:

Sorry but that is not true. An agnostic atheist (as I am, although I've been raised in a strict catholic way) doesn't in any way impose a specific, unmodifiable, irrational, declared set of truth values to be the basis of *real-world actions* but is open to just any provisional set of truth values based upon scientific evidence, realizing how relative it all is.
No religion does this. If the book (whatever book) says that you shall not kill a 10-cellular organism, and you want to impose that upon others, then that is public religious behavior. If the book says that you should cut off the hands of someone who steals, that's similar.

An atheist can accept (although with a smile) that people think that the moon is made of green cheese. A believer of the green-cheese religion has difficulties with an atheist saying that that is a bit ridiculous.