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« Conversations | Main | The other shoe drops »

Feb 13, 2007

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Anglico

No rules, and it's about time.

The Theocrats have had a free pass for too long, covering their power plays with the Shroud of Turin or Christ an Oyster Shell. Criticize them and their tactics and you're pegged as someone who hates god.

This will be the next big debate and the Tubes are going to make it a free for all. Spirituality will come to the fore and narrow-minded doctrinaires will find themselves increasingly isolated, defending their little patches of turf while a whole new awakening emergers. It's going to be exciting.

By the way, god talked to me this morning and said, 'Screw 'em if they can't take a joke.'

All bets are off.

Jeffrey Sykes

Anglico:

I really look forward to the Democrats pushing that viewpoint on middle class America in the coming 18 months.

Marcus Kindley

It seems that it is alright to insult Christians but not any other religious group. Is that how it is to be understood?
Are we to see the same uhm... questions and comments raised about the muslims?
Just askin'

Percy Walker

Talk about offensive, Harvard just picked Faust -- FAUST! -- to be its president. I suppose many figured that had happened centuries ago.

Frank

Maybe the problem is the way we understand "myth" in our modern world. To us, a myth is a lie, it's unimportant, something to be "busted." But haven't myths been important in defining the identities of civilizations and in grappling with the unknown (and unknowable)? Thomas Mann said a myth is "a story about the way things never were, but always are." I understand the stories of my faith as metaphor, which Marcus Borg calls the "more than literal meaning" of the stories. For all I know, this is how Marcotte feels, too. And while I'm not threatened by the use of the word "myth," and sometimes use it in discussions either because I know I'm among like-minded believers or because I want to be deliberately provocative, I know the word can be a conversation ender for some folks. The problem I have with Marcotte is that she did not seem to be seeking a conversation at all, or looking for common ground. I believe there are more similarities among people of faith than there are differences; we need to choose our words carefully if we want to keep the dialog open.

Bubba

"The problem I have with Marcotte is that she did not seem to be seeking a conversation at all, or looking for common ground."

Exactly.

Oliver Willis agrees:

"I think too many on the liberal side of the blogosphere are interested in being activists over commentators. While there certainly is a value involved in working for a campaign, at a certain point the line between the activist and the campaign gets too blurry."

Debra

How do you have a conversation with someone who believes but does not reason? A former colleague once offered this analogy: see, we have this car here and its a great car, it runs really well. Then "believers" come along and say "we want square wheels." We fact-based people say "but it won't work with square wheels." And the believers say "we belive it will, despite all evidence to the contrary." Now explain to me how you have a conversation with someone like that.

Sven

I think there's a fine line between blasphemy and hate speech. I fear The Editors at the Poor Man Institute for Freedom, Democracy and a Pony will one day cross that line in a post about a certain Canadian power trio. PBUT.

Frank

I don't think being a "believer" necessarily means one is incapable of reason, anymore than I think "fact-based" people are incapable of belief. If you and I discuss something slightly less concrete than the shape of wheels on a car--ethical questions, for instance--we will come at it from very different world views but we will still almost certainly find areas of commonality as long as we are willing to make the effort to keep the conversation going. There are those on each end of the spectrum who are looking for excuses not to talk, and even AMONG believers it sometimes seems like we are speaking different languages. I just think it's worth the effort, even when it doesn't work.

Anglico

Jeffrey.

I don't speak for Democrats, and they don't speak for me. They just happen to be the lesser of two evils - by a wide margin. Given the fact that there are no practical alternatives, that's what we're stuck with.

In case you're interested, I've started the discussion here, but I don't expect it to catch. Most of my fellow bloggers at BlueNC are solid Christians. They feel no need to worry about me and my back-sliding ways whatsoever. Would that the rest of the world could follow their lead.

Connie Mack Jr

It seems that it is alright to insult Christians but not any other religious group. Is that how it is to be understood?
Are we to see the same uhm... questions and comments raised about the muslims?
Just askin'* Mr Chairman

Mr Chairman, You have just insulted the Muslin faith by simply asking them questions about Mecca and the Black Rock in Space Odessy 2001. You will be lucky that Hal the Super Computer and those monkeys don't come after your Heathen non Intellect design brains.

Connie Mack Jr

Now explain to me how you have a conversation with someone like that.*Debra

You don't! You simply burn them at the stake like King Philip the Fair did to the back sliding Knight's Templars in 1307 AD.

DrFrankLives

I laugh and laugh when I hear anyone say Christians are oppressed in this country. What a joke.

I am a Christian. I am not oppressed. In fact, the entire social structure of this country is set up to make me feel comfortable. There are churches on every corner. The country gets both of my major holidays off work. Sundays are a day off. Presidential candidates couch their speeches in scripture. Ten channels on cable television broadcast nothing but televangelists.

Mr. Kindley, despite the nice things Ed may say about him at dinner, is a demagogue and he no more cares about this issue than he does any other issue he rails upon from time to time. Like Donahue, if he can make noise about something, Kindley believes it. If not, oh well, out the back door it goes.

Here's a hint, Marcus, when a group is the dominant group in a society it is always acceptable to joke about them. IT is when a member of the dominant group mocks a less poweful, less influential group that the humor becomes a meanspirited attack.

Amanda Marcotte certainly doesn't talk like my momma said a lady should. She certainly doesn;t have the same view of Christianity that I have. But she is no symbol of any anti-Christian bent in American society. Far from it.

I have to respectfully disagree with my friend Doug Clark. If someone is an atheist and not a Christian, why should you consider it an insult if she calls the core stories of Christianity a "mythology?" Don't you call the core stories of paganism a mythology? A mythology is a construct of stories and beliefs, without literal proof of their truth or accuracy, set up to define the core tenets of a religion.

Critical evaluation of belief structures is a study in mythology. It's one way a social scientist studies a culture. You study the culture's mythology. What stories and beliefs did the society construct to explain the world?

To be upset that a non-Christian calls the virgin birth of Christ a mythology is to say "we are right about this thing that nobody documented at the time of its occurence and everybody else's beliefs are wrong." You can believe that. Sure. I believe Christ is the Son of God and came to redeem our sins and show us the way to a more virtuous life.

I am not offended, however, if someone who does NOT believe that looks at the first few chapters of Luke and finds the stories of visiting choirs of angels, greatly pregnant girls riding donkeys over the mountains, three kings following a star, and babies jumping for joy in the womb to be allegorical mythological stories. If you don't share the faith, the stories do seem a bit fantastic, don't they?

I guess my point is why should I expect a nonbeliever to talk like a believer??? And why should I consider it an insult if they don't?

Why should muslims be offended when a non-muslim draws a cartoon of Mohammed?

Connie Mack Jr

"The problem I have with Marcotte is that she did not seem to be seeking a conversation at all, or looking for common ground."* Frank and Bubba the evil twins of Bush Compassionate faith base Religion

What for? She was a confirmed reverse non-believer in myths. Would you expect the Greek Gods to surrender their myths to the masses and go out of the money changer business?

By the way! Do you boys really believe that Saint George really slayed that Dragon in the name of Jesus and founded Scotland?

DrFrankLives

Connie,

You have crossed the line, sir. Nobody messes with Scotland!!!

Ed Cone

Marcus, I think the key word is "insult," and, again, the definition of what constitutes an insult.

Is it an insult to say, I do not believe in the tenets of Islam, or Christianity, or Hinduism or whatever?

Is it an insult to say so by characterizing those beliefs as "mythologies?"

If the first one is OK, and I suspect most people would find it so, then why is the second one not so?

The question of using politics or force to impose theology or practice is another issue, although the issues can shade together. Most of the criticism I see of religious people of various faiths centers on their behavior in the wider world, not their beliefs per se.

billg

Behavior, political or otherwise, is fair game for criticism, regardless of motivation.

Beliefs that must be protected against any criticism have doubtful merit.

If a person of faith responds angrily to criticism of that faith, then that faith must not be strong enough. After all, why would the criticism make you angry when you have such a strong belief that it is wrong, and hence, irrelevant?

It is interesting, too, that those who object so vehemently to criticism of their own faith are very likely quite willing to apply similar criticisms to other faiths. E.g., how many people who would be angered if the Bible was described as only the collected writings of mere mortals would feel free to say that the notion that the Koran was divinely inspired is so much nonsense?

While a little doubt is a very good thing, real certainty of faith is, I think, a very rare thing. Otherwise, not so many who claim to adhere to the one true faith would take criticism to heart.

PotatoStew

There's no way that any faith should be exempt from criticism. Marcotte's comments may have been crass and rude, but she should have every right to express them. The same goes for criticisms of Islam, or Mormonism, or Atheism. Making certain beliefs off-limits to criticism is not a road we want to go down.

Billg's point is right on - how many of those who object to Marcotte's comments would hesitate to call Islamic beliefs "mythology" or scoff at the idea of virgins awaiting suicide bombers in heaven?

Marcus claims that there is a double standard, that it's ok to criticize Christianity but not Islam. I would suggest that there are probably fewer folks who hold this double standard than he thinks. Furthermore, if anyone does think that Islam should be exempt from criticism, and Christianity should not, they're simply wrong. But don't go backwards and demand that both be exempt from criticism.

The CA

It's not really about religion in politics, it's about the rules. The rules for religion in politics is quite simple. You cannot talk about your religious beliefs unless you are a Democrat. You cannot criticize, question, or make fun of religion unless you are a Democrat.

Interesting that suddenly attacking religion as a political issue is troubling to some, while the same people have no problem attacking people who espouse religious beliefs in the political arena.

Really, get a mirror and ask yourself "how do I sleep at night". Consistency and integrity fall victim to political posturing once again. Anyone who doubts the multitude of threads that would be out there if a Republican hired someone who made anti-Semitic statements or even anti-Muslim remarks isn't paying attention. You know it, and I know it. It's a blatant double standard. Deal with it.

Alan Cone Bulluck

There is a big difference between a discussion and an all out bashing. All Whatever Her Name Was did was bash Catholicism. There was no invitation or room for discourse. Plus, after reading over some of her stuff I've come to think of her as another Maureen Dowd wannabe. Either way, Edwards blew the campaign a while back. It will be funny to watch his ship sink even further. At least he has a nice house to live in for the rest of his life - in Carrboro.

billg

>>"Interesting that suddenly attacking religion as a political issue is troubling to some, while the same people have no problem attacking people who espouse religious beliefs in the political arena."

Attacking religiously motivated behavior is not attacking religion. If someone stands in the town square and declares that his faith tells him that abortion is a sin, he's expressing his beliefs. He should not be attacked for believing that. That belief, however, can be examined, criticized, supported, or rejected. Likwise, he has every right to defend and explain his faith.

If he stands in front of an abortion clinic with a shotgun, that behavior is fair game. He has no right to seek shelter under a cloak of religiosity.

Marcotte used inflammatory language to reject a central tenet of the faith of many people. The same opinion has been expressed, repeatedly, for the last two millenia, sometimes in less, sometimes in more, inflammatory language. It's natural that people are offended by inflammatory language. That's why we use it. But, to argue that we are not free to express doubt or to question any faith is to deny free speech.

"Espousing belief in the political arena" is protected by free speech. Advocating legislation and administrative policies that are motivated by that belief is not. It's fair game for attack and opposition, or praise and support.

Politics are politics, even if you tell people you're doing God's work.


Perhaps it seems Republicans get so much grief over this issue because they so often sound as if the rest of us are irreligious unvalued heathens if we oppose their politics. If someone keeps telling me that I'm the enemy, I will eventually decide that they are my enemy.

billg

Edit:

" Advocating legislation and administrative policies that are motivated by that belief is not. It's fair game for attack and opposition, or praise and support."

should read...

" Advocating legislation and administrative policies that are motivated by that belief is, as well. It's also fair game for attack and opposition, or praise and support."

Faith is faith. Behavior is behavior.

The CA

billg, the debate you refer to is unfortunately not the actual debate that takes place. Instead, we get lectures on the separation of church and state to attack anyone (on the Right of course) who mentions their faith in the political arena.

I'm not making a judgment call about the role of religion in politics, just an observation about how it actually plays out. You either take the position that's it's okay in politics or it's not. Your position should not be relative to your politics. That's what annoys me more than anything.

Anglico
to attack anyone (on the Right of course) who mentions their faith in the political arena.

That's just plain silly, Mr. Alternative ... the kind of sweeping generalization you're so fond of making when you're playing the poor, victimized patriot.

With a few exceptions, I know no one who cares one way or the other when people mention their faith. It's when they purport to have a secret sign from god - a sign telling them that should invade another country and kill a hundred thousand people - that some of us get a little uncomfortable.

On the other hand, imagine the flack a person gets who mentions that they DON'T have faith in the public arena! They are reviled, ridiculed and assumed to be less than fully evolved and caring human beings, certainly not worthy of leading service of a "Christian" nation.

The hypocrisy you seem happy to condone is startling even to me, and my expectations are pretty low.

Ed Cone

Sam, you are having a conversation about partisan politics, or more accurately about your perception of partisan politics.

The post is actually about something else. To the degree it was about partisan politics, it was keyed to events driven by a staffer for a Democratic candidate who got in trouble for talking about her view of religion.

billg

CA: When polticians proclaim their faith and tell us that they act in accordance with it, they should not expect their behavior to be exempt from criticism. And, anyone running for political office sould certainly expect the beliefs that motivate him to also be subject to criticism. If I say that one of the reasons I've opposed President Bush is that I fear some of his goals and actions that he says are religiously motivated, why should I stop short of questioning the belief behind the motivation?

If someone does bad things and says he did it because his faith told him to, why should I hold that faith -- as he defines and proclaims it -- above criticism?

A politician who willingly introduces his faith into the public arena forfeits any expectation that his faith is not a matter for public discussion.

More Republicans have wrapped themselves in open religiosity than Democrats. Sincere or not, it gets votes. If it seems that religiosity is unfairly attacked, I'd argue that perhaps it seems that way because so many Republicans behave as if they expect the rest of us to give their faith and the politics it inspires a special dispensation.

Nor is standing up for separation of church and state an attack on anyone's faith. Unless, of course, they don't believe in that separation.

PotatoStew

Sam,

"Instead, we get lectures on the separation of church and state to attack anyone (on the Right of course) who mentions their faith in the political arena."

We've discussed this before - politicians on the right constantly make reference to their faith without any attacks from the left. It's only regarding actual policies that there is pushback - and that's simply how our system works. General mentions of faith and God are commonplace and for the most part unremarked on.

billg

Ed, I agree the thread should stay on track. But, the distinction has become pretty subtle.

I was raised as a practicing Methodist. I didn't, and don't, believe the literal word of the Bible. The church didn't teach me that. It taught me to asks questions. We all certainly considered ourselves Christiains, and no one seemed to disagree. I suppose today that would not be the case. Fundamentalists and literalists have become synonymous with Christian. That's both wrong, and unfortunate.

To get back to the question: I don't think there's a legitimate reason to avoid discussing faith, in any context. Intemparate language and simple abuse, of course, are inappropriate in any discussion. Whoever Marcotte wrote about -- if she wrote in that manner with that choice of language -- would have reason to take offense. Not at the criticism, but the way it was expressed.

So...declaring your rejection of the virgin birth of Jesus is an exercise of free speech, and isn't a comment on the intelligence of anyone else. Asserting that anyone who believes in the virgin birth is a nutcase is, obviously, a different thing.

J. Neas

I use the phrase 'mythology' often when referring to the archetypes/motifs of creation stories in world literature. And yes, this extends to the Biblical/Hebrew creation and flood stories which share so much in common with similar mythologies the world over. I can see some of my students shift internally a little bit when I use that phrase, but I've never had anyone raise a fuss about it because I believe they understand its use within context.

That's my background as to why I, personally, wouldn't find the phrase 'mythology' to be insulting. It's highly preferrable to 'fairy tale' or some other such diminutive. It at least, rightly, places it within the context of beliefs of people of other faiths past and present.

coturnix

BTW, Pandagon is back online and Amanda has linked to the two posts that provoked all this. Go and read them for your own edification and tell me if they are insulting.

Yes, there is a difference between religious belief and religiously-motivated behavior. But there is also a difference between the person and that person's belief. So often, deeply religious people are incapable of differentiating between their personhood and their belief, i.e., they define themselves by their religion.

There is a difference between:

"I am John Johnson, and, oh, by the way, I am also [insert religious denomination of choice]"

and

"I am a [insert religious denomination of choice], and, oh, by the way, I am also John Johnson."

People who define themselves by their religion are personally insulted when someone critiques their religion. For instance, a Catholic may not be able to recognize that a criticism of Vatican or Pope is not a personal criticism of him/her and will feel insulted.

Whil no person should be insulted or denigrated, if a belief is unsupported by empirical evidence of how teh world actually works, the belief is fair game for ridicule. Behaviors based on such beliefs are fair game for criticism and, in cases in which the behaviors are dangerous, fair game for making illegal by the state.

Lex

I saw somewhere that Bill Donohue was complaining about JOKES ABOUT the Catholic sex-abuse scandal. He'd be a lot easier to take seriously if he complained about the scandal itself, about which I have just three words to say: Continuing. Criminal. Enterprise.

Until that's addressed -- Judgment Day, I'd imagine at this point -- I don't want to hear one more damn word about any alleged blogger incivilities about religion. And any further publicity granted Bill Donohue that doesn't involve his perp walk constitutes journalistic malpractice.

billg

Disagreeing with a description of your faith as "mythology" is one thing, arguing that people can't say things like that about religion is another.

Discussion and criticism of religion is not off limits. A little civility helps, but, in the end, free speech takes precedence over another's sensitivities. Those who say the criticism ventures into God's turf ought to be willing to let God deal with it. Certainity of belief doesn't give anyone the right to usurp that role.

One of the things that happen in blogging is that many often write for our particular audience, at least as we see and imagine that audience. We make assumptions about shared interests, biases, beliefs, etc. We use tone and language that is appropriate for that audience.

But, a public web site is a public web site. People who follow a link to a blog posting have every reason to assume that post was written for them.

As I read Marcotte, she was clearly writing to her audience. I didn't find her post insulting, but I also understood that many people would.

That's to say, it's the packaging that got Marcotte into trouble. Putting aside folks like Donohue who are looking to pick fights, if that post had been written in dry academic style (as it easily could), the reaction would have been different.

The CA

I haven't said that religion is above criticism. I haven't made a judgment on the role of religion in politics. Rather, I have pointed out that those who complain that religion is too dominant in politics have no business getting defensive when anti-religious statements enter the political arena. This is not off thread, it is directly on point and the reason for the partisan injection is because it is a simple factual observation.

Do I need to do a Google search and point out how many times people who are posting here now have railed about some Republican injecting their faith into politics? If you are going to attack people for bringing their religion into politics, they have the right to attack people who bring anti-religion into politics. The partisan issue is raised based on who is doing the attacking of the former and defending the latter. There is a clear party delineation going on here. "Religious Right"= no place in politics, violating Church and State. Anti-Religious groups/statements, well they are just exercising their free speech and this shouldn't be a political issue.

Sorry folks, that's a double standard. I remember well how Pat Buchanan was attacked for being an anti-Semite when he isn't. Republican's get attacked for being religious or being anti anything. Not so for Democrats.

Once again the question is whether you want an honest debate on the subject or want to play politics. If you truly believe what you say, you wouldn't have a double standard.

The CA

So Lex, are you saying the Catholic Church is a continuing criminal enterprise?

DrFrankLives

Basing your political beliefs on your religious belief (although MANY go the opposite way) is not the same thing as imposing your religious values on others. I complain about the latter, not the former.

Ed Cone

Pat Buchanan is an obnoxious guy who gets called out for being obnoxious. In that sense, some of his comments seem analogous to Marcotte's.

Read the thread, Sam, people are making different points about religion and politics than you ascribe to them. Or than I think you ascribe to them, since you shy away from specifics.

The CA

I have read the thread Ed, you just want to ignore the point that is being raised.

Your thread question is this- "What are the rules for discussing the religious beliefs of others? It looks like a live question in this political season."

The rules are you can attack a person on the Right as being part of the dreaded "Religious Right" who violates Church and State, etc. However, if you are on the Left and you make Anti- Religious statements, that's okay. It's not complicated. Conservative pro-religion doesn't belong in politics, Liberal anti-religion is fair game. So if the discussion is about what "role" discussing religious beliefs has in the political arena, there you have it.

You can't attack those who are vocal about their religion while giving a pass to those who are vocal in their views against a particular relgion and be consistent.

Sorry you don't like what I have to say. Better for you to just disagree than to try and make it personal, Ed.

billg

>>"...those who complain that religion is too dominant in politics have no business getting defensive when anti-religious statements enter the political arena."

I don't fear a politician's religion (why should I), but I do fear what some politicians say their religion drives them to do. It's the behavior, not the motivation, that counts. I don't care if George Bush is a born again Christian or a voodoo practitioner. I care about the things he does. If he says his beliefs play a major role in guiding his decisions, then the linkage between those beliefs and his behavior is a legitimate target for criticism.

If we are not free to criticize political behavior that's allegedly motivated by belief, what is the value of free speech?

It is not an attack on his faith for me to say: "George Bush is wrong if he thinks he's doing God's work." Or: "The things George Bush says he believes make no sense to me and I fear the consequences of those beliefs."

>>"The rules are you can attack a person on the Right as being part of the dreaded 'Religious Right' who violates Church and State, etc. However, if you are on the Left and you make Anti- Religious statements, that's okay."

It's OK for either side to make anti-religious or pro-religious statements. If they do something that I think violates church-state separation (like the faith-based initiative or mandated school prayer), that's a different issue. If left-wing folks tried something comparable, I'd consider that an equal threat to the church-state divide.

As I see it, many on the right are asking the rest of us to abstain from examining their positions because they claim a religious basis for those actions.

Ed Cone

Sam, you make blanket statments about the attitudes on religion and politics of unnamed commenters on the thread.

Meanwhile, there are many comments on the thread from people who say they do not believe the things about religion and politics that you ascribe to the unnamed commenters.

The post was about discussing beliefs, not the role of religion in partisan politics, but I guess when you've only got a hammer every question looks like a nail.

The CA

I will repeat your initial question again, Ed:

"What are the rules for discussing the religious beliefs of others? It looks like a live question in this political season."

You tied it to politics. I merely pointed out how it actually plays out in politics. I hear what Billg is saying and he makes some good points, however, I don't believe his characterization of the discussion is how it actually occurs. Conservatives are criticized for letting their religion influence their views or making statements about the role of religion in their lives, almost to the point of hysteria by some.

Whether that is warranted isn't the issue with me. Rather the idea that such attacks are somehow an acceptable part of the political process while attacks on people making anti-religious statements are out of bounds is what gets me. You can't have an honest discussion from that premise, but that appears to be what some are advocating.

Call me when you guys want to be fair about it. Who knows, in the end we may even agree. But I won't play under these lopsided rules.

billg

I don't know how the discussion really takes place. If it appears conservatives are criticized for letting their religion influence their public behavior, I'd argue that it is because so many of them tell us that's the case. If someone does something that I think threatens my country and my freedoms, and he says he does it out of religious motivation, am I to pretend he didn't make the connection?

Attacks on people making anti-religious statements are obviously not out of bounds. Marcotte would certainly be surprised to learn her post was out of bounds to attack. Many, however, seem to argue that Marcotte had no right to say anything critical of Catholicism, no matter what tone she adopted or what language she used. That, in my eye, subjugates free speech rights to the passing sensitivities of others.

Are you saying that behavior that's claimed to be based on faith is immune from criticism? I don't think so. How, then, do we draw the line between fairly criticizing behavior and unfairly criticizing the beliefs that are loudly trumpted as causing the behavior?

Dave Dobson

Sam -

There's absolutely no inconsistency in the following two concepts:

1) Bloggers shouldn't suffer political consequences for statements challenging religious tenets.

2) Politicians shouldn't use religious justifications for public policy decisions, and are open to criticism if they do.

You might disagree with either or both, but they both stem from a desire to remove religion from politics and to maintain separation of church and state.

I don't see what inconsistency you're talking about.

You're also trying, I think, to make the point that Republicans get hopped on for faith-based politicking, and that Democrats don't. Democratic politicians tend not to do that, and if they do, they don't usually talk about using faith to guide specific programs (e.g. the Office for Faith-Based Initiatives) or policies (God and my faith require me to follow this policy).

Like it or not, the Republicans are firmly identified with and cooperative with conservative Christians, and they're the ones working to eliminate the separation of church and state.

There's a huge difference between expressing one's faith personally versus using it to garner votes or to shape policy.

The CA

Actually Dave, your number one is a little incorrect. It should read "Bloggers shouldn't suffer political consequences for statements challenging religious tenets unless they are hired by political campaigns where criticism of religion in politics is fair game" (leading to your number two).

This isn't about just bloggers. It's about bloggers hired by political campaigns attacking religion and then crying foul when people call them on it. The very same bloggers who are probably the one's attacking conservatives for discussing religion and claiming religion doesn't belong in politics. If that's the case, then neither do attacks on religion.

billg

>>"It's about bloggers hired by political campaigns attacking religion and then crying foul when people call them on it."

If you make a public statement -- blogging -- you have to be prepared for criticism. Marcotte had every right to write what she wrote. She doesn't have a right to be exempt from criticism. She also had no obligation to remain silent about that criticism.

>>...the one's attacking conservatives for discussing religion and claiming religion doesn't belong in politics. "

If anyone is being attacked for simply discussing religion, then that's wrong. But, conservatives are not merely discussing religion. Many are admitting they are motivated by their faith to advocate policies many of us believe threaten this nation. We have an obligation to oppose that and to stand up for our positions. To challenge that obligation by claiming that we are attacking their religion is a sleazy poltical hack.

If I see politicians follow stupid, dangerous policies, support bigotry, reward the few at the expense of the many, trample on core American values, embarrass our nation and prompt loathing of it (and us) across the globe, am I supposed to ignore all that because they claim religious justification and will accuse me of unjustly attacking their faith if I criticize what they, themselves, proclaim is the acting out of their faith?

The CA

Billg, I am not necessarily disagreeing with a lot of what you are saying. I am suggesting that people who feel that their religion is under attack feel a similar right to stand up and protest. You can't allow one without the other, and if you are going to condemn one, you need to condemn the other. My observation is that this isn't really how it is happening in the real world where there seems to be a double standard about when protest is warranted.

Bubba

".....and they're the ones working to eliminate the separation of church and state."

Oh really?

Is that now the "liberal consensus" on "conservative religious belief regarding the First Amendment"?

Unbelievable......but it's right here for everyone to read.

And I wager he's not even embarrassed about it.

billg

Yes, people who feel their religion is being attacked have a right to respond. But, they don't have a right to expect their political behavior to be exempt from criticism simply because they wrap it in religious clothing. Most of what I see happening is the latter, not the former.

If we are afraid to criticize for fear that we will offend someone's religious sensibilities, then we are ceding to them the ability to set the parameters of discussion and the rules of the game.

Conservatives who do not want their faith criticized should not be the first to introduce their faith into the public dialogue.

sean coon

bingo.

Ed Cone

I'm still interested in the topic I raised in the post, which is how we talk about the beliefs of others.

As in the anecdote about communion told here. I would guess most people find this completely inoffensive. Why?

Romney's Mormonism will make this year especially interesting. Not the question of how his faith might influence policy, but the parsing of Mormon theology and practice, and the reaction to those things.

The CA

"If we are afraid to criticize for fear that we will offend someone's religious sensibilities, then we are ceding to them the ability to set the parameters of discussion and the rules of the game."

I agree with that, but it would much better if that rule was applied evenly and fairly across the spectrum. It's not. Get a whiff of someone making an anti-Semitic remark or contact or anti-Muslim remark, and suddenly different rules apply followed by righteous condemnation.

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