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May 20, 2006

Justice and the Religious Right

The Washington Post has a piece today on the rising fortunes of the religious left, but reading the piece I think the authors of the piece have gotten it wrong. The people profiled in the piece aren't necessarily left, they're just not part of the religious right, which at this point is a fairly well-defined segment of the population that is better defined by its political goals than its relationship with either God or Christianity.

Being opposed to the political agenda of the religious right does not mean, by default, that you are a lefty; I suspect there are number of people who would classify themselves as conservative and/or Republican who are also squicked out by the religious right. You don't have to be a heathen liberal to be annoyed with movement that frowns on a vaccine that can help women avoid cervical cancer on the grounds that it may give teenage girls the idea that it's okay to have sex (because, of course, that's how young girls think when they think about vaccines). Branding religious people opposed to the religious right's agenda as "left" is part of that lazy binary thing people here in the US have going, and I suspect that the Washington Post reporters should have been a bit smarter than that.

I don't see the religious schism as a right/left or conservative/liberal one, anyway. To me, what it appears to be is a schism between those religious people who are concerned with justice, and those who are concerned with power. The contemporary religious right is tremendously politically powerful, but it is almost wholly unconcerned about justice -- it has political and social policies that explicitly abandon or punish those who do not share its worldview, and it has a worldview which is not notably compassionate or charitable, so that leaves out quite a lot. Promoting a discriminatory agenda, promoting ignorance in public education and promoting one's religion above all others in the political arena is not justice in any moral sense of the word.

I think many of the religious people who are rebelling against the religious right's agenda are doing so because they see the lack of justice in it; a lack of the charity and compassion and love that is explicit in the message of Christianity, for one, and in most other religions as well. And it's not about political positions, per se. One may believe abortion is wrong, but be opposed to a political agenda that explicitly denies to the poor the access to family planning that the middle and upper classes have as a matter of course. One may believe that homosexuality is morally wrong but be opposed to the political agenda that works to have gay Americans permanently branded as second class citizens.

One may believe that one's religion is the true path to everlasting redemption but be opposed to the political agenda that promotes the religion (or one particular variant of it) as public policy rather than letting the good works of the religion and those who follow it speak for themselves. One may believe in the presence of God at the creation of all things and oppose the political agenda that would prefer children be uneducated than to learn things that might be at odds with a superficial understanding of the miracle of God's works. One may believe all the things that those who are in the religious right believe, and also that justice does not include division, discrimination, ignorance and coercion.

One of the great things about American religion in the 20th Century is that it was a critical avenue for justice, most prominently in the civil rights struggles of the 50s and 60s. Since the 1980s, I think it's been that the most public face of religion in America has been one that has not been concerned about justice. 25 years is long enough for that particular face. I would be happy to see a different one, and I'm happy that more and more of my religious brothers and sisters seem ready to show it.

Posted by john at May 20, 2006 12:28 PM

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RooK | May 20, 2006 12:46 PM

AMEN*.

* Religious-seeming blessing-type comment may or may not be of literal significance, due to the agnostic nature of the source, and is used for expressive purposes only. Void where prohibited. Return for refund unavailable in New Brunswick, Utah, and Zimbabwe.

Patrick | May 20, 2006 12:55 PM

Bravo! Bravo!

Your blog entry reflects much of my own position.

CoolBlue | May 20, 2006 01:57 PM

First, I would consider myself a Liberal, but most think I'm a Conservative. Second, Although I usually vote Republican, but I would love another choice because the Religious Right, while not majority of the Republican party is none the less very powerful. Which is fine, but I would rather not have to support their agenda with my vote because I mostly disagree with their point of view.

Having said that, I think this article is more about how the Left is trying to appeal to folks who are religious because many things have conspired to paint the Left as promoting atheism.

This is obviously a concerted effort on the part of Democrats that was made public when Howard Dean went on the 700 Club and announced that

"The Democratic Party platform from 2004 says that marriage is between a man and a woman. That's what it says."

Which, by the way is an incorrect rendering of the Platform of the Democratic Party. But hey, he was pandering.

He also said

"I am not used to wearing religion on my sleeve and being open about it. I am gradually getting more comfortable to talk about religion in ways I did not talk about it before. It does not make me more religious or less religious than before. It just means I am more comfortable talking about it in different ways."

There is no doubt that the party has used its PR directorate to get stories like this in the press.

I believe it is this and nothing more.

John Scalzi | May 20, 2006 02:23 PM

CoolBlue:

"I think this article is more about how the Left is trying to appeal to folks who are religious because many things have conspired to paint the Left as promoting atheism."

Huh? The article is about people who are already religious but have different opinions than the religious right moving into the political sphere, not about "the left" doing outreach to them. I don't know how you get your formulation above from that.

CoolBlue | May 20, 2006 02:55 PM

John Scalzi

The article is about people who are already religious but have different opinions than the religious right moving into the political sphere, not about "the left" doing outreach to them.

But there is no news there so I ask myself is what is this really about?

For instance, blacks have traditionally voted Democrat and a vast majority of blacks are religious and Christian.

Catholics have been a reliable Democrat demographic as have Jews.

So it is clear that for a long time religious people have voted for Democrats.

BUT; Blacks have been less reliable for Democrats in recent years with Republicans making gains especially among religious Blacks. Jews have been shifting Republican mostly beacuse of the lack of support for Israel among many vocal groups who are associated with the Democrats. And Catholics have also been voting more Republican mostly because of their support for anti-Abortion issues.

Now much of this has been perceived by the Democrat party as being the result of Republicans representing a religious constituency while the Democrats support an atheistic minority.

So I could be wrong, but if you look, you will see a number of move being made by Democrats to reverse this impression and it seems to me that this is simply another manifestation of that.

Because it sure ain't news otherwise.

Scott Spiegelberg | May 20, 2006 02:59 PM

Good post. I completely agree with the power vs. justice dichotomy. Any time I have seen injustice in the world, it has been because some person or group was trying to gain power or protect power. All of my political positions are based upon promoting justice for everyone. Whichever party or candidate devotes the most effort towards justice gets my vote.

Jon | May 20, 2006 03:10 PM

Your point about the false dichotomy of religious right (usually meaning power-hungry televangelists) and religious left (most of us) points out why some of us prefer the term religious reich to describe the fundies. I am a born-again Christian and a political conservative, but I still can't stand the likes of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell!

John Scalzi | May 20, 2006 03:27 PM

CoolBlue:

"But there is no news there --"

Politically-engaged religious groups challenging the worldview of the dominant political faction of Christianity isn't news? I'm not sure I agree 100% with your police work, there.

Speaking as someone who spent years working in a newsroom, let me also suggest that trying to pin this particular story idea on the left and its political agenda rules out the rather more pedestrian but rather more likely reason the story is in the paper, which is that the reporters in this case tossed up the story idea in a news meeting a couple of weeks ago and the section editor thought it might be a good story that the readers might be interested in.

In other words, don't ascribe to byzantine machinations of political factions what can be ascribed to simple journalistic industriousness. I know it's sexy to think of journalists being lobbied 24/7 by political apparatchiks, but really, your average journalist -- even one who works at the Washington Post -- doesn't have the time for all that.

Cassie | May 20, 2006 04:01 PM

Let me ask you, John, in all seriousness and without a bit or sarcasm or irony:

You do not claim to be a Christian. I've seen you refer to yourself as agnostic.

Therefore, why do you think your opinion about what Christianity should or shouldn't be is valid?

What ground do you stand on to judge it?

Have you read the Bible, or are you making judgments about what Christianity is, is not, should be or should not be, on its followers?

I'm not ranting, I'm curious.

Cassie

John Scalzi | May 20, 2006 04:23 PM

Regarding the Bible, of course I have read it; a number of times in fact (although some parts more than others; some of those later books in the Old Testament can make a guy nod off).

I could give you a long answer as to what ground I have to have an opinion on Christianity, but the short answer is that it's the same ground that Christians are on when they have an opinion about agnosticism.

CoolBlue | May 20, 2006 04:51 PM

John Scalzi

In other words, don't ascribe to byzantine machinations of political factions what can be ascribed to simple journalistic industriousness.

Look, it must be clear that each and every political party seeks to use the press to get their message out. And it must also be clear that the manage to do this to varying degrees.

It is also clear that most journalists political and religious proclivities. And there is no such thing as unbiased journalism because journalists are human.

I do not think this is a conspiracy. I think this is to be expected.

OTOH, I was being a bit flippant. There is some news in this but it is quite in line with my argument. The news is that political organizers are attempting to organize "left leaning" religious folks in the same way that the right has done.

The report, it seems to me, makes it quite obvious that this is not a spontaneous movement.

But again, it is not new for Democrats of the religious type to newtwork and be political.

The problem is that the Democrats have moved to the left of where they were thirty years ago.

I still contend that as much revered as JFK is by Democrats, he could not get the Nomination of his party were he to run today.

In fact he would be considered a "neo-con".

And that's the real, unconfessed, problem for Democrats.

John Scalzi | May 20, 2006 05:14 PM

CoolBlue:

"Look, it must be clear that each and every political party seeks to use the press to get their message out. And it must also be clear that the manage to do this to varying degrees."

However, what is not clear is that this particular story is an example of that. And I think you're doing a disservice suggesting by implication that any story with political content in it has to be planted by a political party; it suggests that the press doesn't do anything under its own initiative. Again, speaking as someone who spent years in a newsroom, I can tell you that's not my experience. Reporters largely do their own footwork.

This is something I find distasteful about the blog world is that it breeds lazy cynicism of the newsgathering process, because it holds as a general proposition that "mainstream media" is irrevokably corrupt. This is a proposition that brought on by a fundamental misunderstanding of how journalists do their job, and a lack of interest in finding out more about how journalists do their job. It's easier to simply assume some grand conspiracy of political handlers than assume that reporters are doing their jobs and trying to discover interesting news stories that might be significant to their readers.

Personally I find it an arrogant and ignorant position, and it irritates me whether I read it on daily kos or on little green footballs. The blogosphere needs to pull its own head out of its own ass and realize its assumptions about the "mainstream media" are just as idiotic as the MSM's assumptions are about the blogosphere.

As I said in the original piece, I think the reporters in this piece were a little lazy in ascribing to the "left" a reaction against the religious right that is more wide-spectrum in its appeal. I don't think -- and I don't see -- any evidence that this story is anything other than journalists covering a story. Imagining a corps of moustache-twirling liberal story-planters guffawing at yet another success in planting a story in an organ of the traditional media suggests to me you're making things rather more complicated than they are in reality.

CoolBlue | May 20, 2006 05:33 PM

John Scalzi

However, what is not clear is that this particular story is an example of that.

I've reread the article and I've reconsidered my position.

I think you are likely right about this.

John Scalzi | May 20, 2006 05:48 PM

CoolBlue:

"I think you are likely right about this."

Well, thank you. I suspect I'll be wrong about something presently. It's like that sometimes.

Tina K. | May 20, 2006 06:22 PM

Spot on, John!

Clearmoon | May 20, 2006 09:50 PM

I consider myself a fiscal conservative, but a social liberal. I think Federal government should stay out of everything other than providing for the defense, and dealing on our behalf with other nations (tariffs, treaties, & such.) Basically a stay-out-of-everyone's-business kind of thinker. (Which I think makes me a "Libertarian", if there were such a thing in real-life politics. I consider myself a "moral" person, as in I don't think people should go out of their way to harm others.

That being said, I can't understand why thinking people (of the sort Scalzi attracts,) consider giving any religion so much as a second thought! I view organized religion as I view any other business (churches ARE big business,) trying to get into my pockets.

If you want to believe in God (or Allah, Buddha, Vishnu, or the Tooth Fairy for that matter,) GOOD FOR YOU. Why does that require going to a specific building on a specific day with a specific group of people? Oh, by the way... we need you to pay for that privilege. Kinda like Union Dues, or a Country Club membership -- we call it "Offering". Clever, eh? Just like in the old days, except now we burn your money, instead of people and incense.

I don't want to start a flame war, I don't mean to trample on anyone's beliefs, and I don't need any convincing - my mind has been made up for several years on the topic. I'm just fed up with otherwise intelligent people (such as our elected officials,) wasting time, energy, and bandwidth on such a non-subject.

Marx said that religion is the opiate of the masses, and he was absolutely right in that respect. Leave it to the people who are too dumb to think about anything important, to ponder Jesus. There are pressing issues that need everyone else's attention.

/soapbox

Minivet | May 21, 2006 12:44 AM

One of the great things about American religion in the 20th Century is that it was a critical avenue for justice, most prominently in the civil rights struggles of the 50s and 60s.

No need to limit that statement to the 20th century! As you probably know, religion (particularly the evangelical movement) was deeply involved in abolitionism and, later, women's suffrage (along with prohibition, interestingly).

Something apparently happened in the early 20th century that turned much of the evangelical grassroots away from these forms of social justice -- as seen in the development of "prosperity theology." I'm too far from any religious people to have much close knowledge of this; I'd give my left ear to understand why it happened.

David Klecha | May 21, 2006 01:16 AM

I've long believed that, at its heart, Christianity is a faith that is focused largely on one's relationship to the world. Christ instructed people, as individuals, to abide by a moral code and, in the case of communities of Christians, to undertake certain social responsibilities.

But still, at its root, it is about the individual's relationship with God.

Which is why any sort of politicking on the part of Christian organizations as a whole to advance some kind of "faith-based" agenda has always seemed misguided to me. Social justice, yes, but that has almost always been about individuals answering a moral call than groups mobilizing along a political line to enforce their will. The latter has taken over from the former, and, unfortunately, many Christians involved in it do not realize a switch has been made.

There are many things that I believe are wrong, and certain choices that I hope I would never make. I believe them to be wrong for everyone but, it seems to me, that those moral understandings have to be approached through Christ. In other words, because you're not Christian I don't have any sort of basis to tell you that you should not make those choices. It's a moral question, and many of them are fine distinctions, unapproachable without a broader acceptance and understanding of Christ.

Chris Gabel | May 21, 2006 02:48 AM

Scalzi sez:

"I don't see the religious schism as a right/left or conservative/liberal one, anyway. To me, what it appears to be is a schism between those religious people who are concerned with justice, and those who are concerned with power. The contemporary religious right is tremendously politically powerful, but it is almost wholly unconcerned about justice -- it has political and social policies that explicitly abandon or punish those who do not share its worldview, and it has a worldview which is not notably compassionate or charitable, so that leaves out quite a lot. Promoting a discriminatory agenda, promoting ignorance in public education and promoting one's religion above all others in the political arena is not justice in any moral sense of the word."

John, you confess to being opinionated about things you often know little about...and this is a great example. In the above comment, you do a fine job of attributing motives to millions of people you do not know. Obviously you are blessed with mental powers I could never have suspected.

In today's political vernacular, the "religious right" are people who are religious, vote reliably Republican, who oppose utterly unrestricted abortion on demand through all trimesters, and who are also opposed to gay marriage.

Do you not think it is possible - in the case of opposition to abortion - that such opposition IS motivated by justice - that someone must speak out for the helpless, voiceless fetus? I say this as a born-again Christian who is opposed to making abortion illegal (I'll save that explanation for some other time, if you're interested).

I'll bear in mind I really have no idea what type of "justice" you are referring to, so perhaps you can enlighten me on this point. Many use that term to say that income must be redistributed by high taxation on the rich combined with generous social programs which intend to benefit the poor. Must one conform to your particular sense of social justice or be doomed to being condemned for "only being concerned with power?" Let's get real - politics is always about power. People all throughout the spectrum want to win the debate & get the law passed that favors their position. This does not make them evil or even worthy of your contempt.
Let me be specific - I expect we agree on the following issues - I do not favor any kind of mandated school prayer, nor do I favor "creation science or intelligent design" cirricula. Concievably, our only major disagreement in the issues which concern the "religious right" is in gay marriage. Still, that's not too bad a batting average. So, why am I giving you a hard time, here?

Let's try a little history lesson. Until about 30 years ago, traditionalist Christians were of a school of thought that politics is a dirty, rotten, corrupt arena (where'd they get a silly idea like that?), which those who desire to be pure of heart ought to avoid. But a funny thing happened....they figured out that if they didn't particpate, the country was moving in all sorts of directions that they didn't like. So they mobilized, got involved, and have had some successes. THIS IS A BAD THING????? It's the American Way! It's a fabulous wonderful thing! People should have a voice for their views, or else they become disaffected and start doing crazy things that powerless people often do....like become suicide bombers.

Now I understand that it can be frustrating to an enlightened soul such as yourself when these folks are sometimes successful in stalling or even defeating what you consider to be better ideas...but upon reflection, I think you might agree it could be worse.

I'm completely convinced you really don't know the people you have so brutally slandered. Truly, you have no frikking idea how much good is done on a daily basis by them & the extent to which they represent all that is best in America. (Conversely, I freely admit that the same can be said for many of their opponents in the "left" and "center".)

Can't we freely disagree....without impuning one another's motives....and then sit down to a nice cool brewski? (Or milk, if you prefer...)

Bobarino | May 21, 2006 07:01 AM

In today's political vernacular, the "religious right" are people who are religious, vote reliably Republican, who oppose utterly unrestricted abortion on demand through all trimesters, and who are also opposed to gay marriage.

Religious in what sense? Those in the religious right seem more interested in getting their ticket punched for heaven than in actually following the teachings of Jesus. If the religious right were truly religious, I'd expect them to be constantly clamoring for more tax money to help the poor. But I gotta tell you, they seem pretty quiet about that. Yes, I know, they prefer that the poor be helped by private charities. How's that working out?

Lis Carey | May 21, 2006 07:33 AM

Chris, John may be an agnostic, but I'm a Catholic. Maybe you will be willing to concede that I know somthing about Christianity.

If you don't, or say you don't, support creationism, mandatory prayer in the schools, a ban on abortion, restriction of access to contraceptives, but vote for the people for whom this is part of their political agenda, then, yes, you do support them, in practice. Nor can you evade moral responsibility for supporting them.

(Just to be clear, "creation science" is at best ignorance, and at worst heresy. What it's not is either science, or the result of a traditional, respectful, worshipful reading of the Bible and respect for God and God's creation.)

If you brand as "leftist" the view that says that a moral society will so organize itself as to effectively provide for the poor, the vulnerable, and the dependent amongst us, then it's not John who needs some remedial Bible reading.

And if you can do anything other than recoil in horror from people who will seriously oppose making HPV vaccine part of the standard, required suite of childhood vaccines because it's better that women should be at risk of a horrific death from cervical cancer than that teenagers should have get a vaccine and, thus, in the minds of the sex-obsessed religious far right, be "encouraged" to have pre-marital sex, if in response to this you can do anything other than rush to vote for real Christians and other genuinely moral people who support making scientific and medical decisions based on scientific and medical evidence rather than on the basis of what gives them the most control over other people, well, then, you are not a Christian and have no business to be lecturing other people on what Christians believe and value.

Lis Carey | May 21, 2006 07:36 AM

Well, it looked fine in preview. Live and learn.:(

CoolBlue | May 21, 2006 07:57 AM

Bobarino

Yes, I know, they prefer that the poor be helped by private charities. How's that working out?

Arthur C Brooks writing for Policy Review Online wrote a piece interpreting the The Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey (SCCBS) which was carried out in 2000. Some of his findings follow:

The differences in charity between secular and religious people are dramatic. Religious people are 25 percentage points more likely than secularists to donate money (91 percent to 66 percent) and 23 points more likely to volunteer time (67 percent to 44 percent). And, consistent with the findings of other writers, these data show that practicing a religion is more important than the actual religion itself in predicting charitable behavior. For example, among those who attend worship services regularly, 92 percent of Protestants give charitably, compared with 91 percent of Catholics, 91 percent of Jews, and 89 percent from other religions....
The data show that if two people — one religious and the other secular — are identical in every other way, the secular person is 23 percentage points less likely to give than the religious person and 26 points less likely to volunteer....
religious liberals are 19 points more likely than secular liberals to give to charity, while religious conservatives are 28 points more likely than secular conservatives to do so. In other words, religious conservatives (who give and volunteer at rates of 91 percent and 67 percent) appear to differ from secular liberals (who give and volunteer at rates of 72 percent and 52 percent) more due to religion than to politics....
Charity differences between religious and secular people persist if we look at the actual amounts of donations and volunteering. Indeed, measures of the dollars given and occasions volunteered per year produce a yawning gap between the groups. The average annual giving among the religious is $2,210, whereas it is $642 among the secular. Similarly, religious people volunteer an average of 12 times per year, while secular people volunteer an average of 5.8 times. To put this into perspective, religious people are 33 percent of the population but make 52 percent of donations and 45 percent of times volunteered. Secular people are 26 percent of the population but contribute 13 percent of the dollars and 17 percent of the times volunteered.
These differences hardly change when we consider them in isolation from the other demographics, using a statistical technique called tobit regression. Religious practice by itself is associated with $1,388 more given per year than we would expect to see from a secular person (with the same political views, income, education, age, race, and other characteristics), as well as with 6.5 more occasions of volunteering.

So that's pretty much how it's working out.

I would also point out that these results predate Bush's initiative to allow religious charitable organizations to receive Federal money.

Lis Carey | May 21, 2006 09:46 AM

CoolBlue, those are lovely statistics showing that religious people give more to private charity than nonreligious people, and volunteer more. But the question was, how is it working out? For the people who actually need the help? Because helping the poor, the sick, or the otherwise-distressed is not just about demonstrating that you're A Good Person; it's about actually doing some effective good. And if you prefer less-effective means to more-effective means because you get a more immediate sensation of Doing Good, sorry, that's like the man praying on the street corner rather than in the privacy of his own room. And you do know what Jesus said about that, right?


It's not all about you, truly. Or at least, it's not supposed to be.

Chris Gabel | May 21, 2006 10:11 AM

Lis Carey sez:

"Chris, John may be an agnostic, but I'm a Catholic. Maybe you will be willing to concede that I know somthing about Christianity.

If you don't, or say you don't, support creationism, mandatory prayer in the schools, a ban on abortion, restriction of access to contraceptives, but vote for the people for whom this is part of their political agenda, then, yes, you do support them, in practice. Nor can you evade moral responsibility for supporting them."

You say you're a Catholic, but you seem to be contradicting your church on some things here...hmmmmmm....

"(Just to be clear, "creation science" is at best ignorance, and at worst heresy. What it's not is either science, or the result of a traditional, respectful, worshipful reading of the Bible and respect for God and God's creation.)"

I believe (or attempt to) in truth. If something is true, then it is "Christian" in the sense that it reveals something about God or God's creation. You are certainly correct that "Creation Science" is not science. I am not one of those who needs to believe in a 6000 year old world in order to have a high view of the authenticity of scripture. On the other hand, your harsh criticism of those who do strikes me as utterly unnecessary & unkind. What's wrong with simply saying they are honestly mistaken?

"If you brand as "leftist" the view that says that a moral society will so organize itself as to effectively provide for the poor, the vulnerable, and the dependent amongst us, then it's not John who needs some remedial Bible reading."

I'm all for helping all of the above, although I don't see any biblical commands to use the state to accomplish such ends - God seems more interested in what we individually do along those lines.....governments tend to use coersion. But if you've got any useful citations, shoot them my way.

"And if you can do anything other than recoil in horror from people who will seriously oppose making HPV vaccine part of the standard, required suite of childhood vaccines because it's better that women should be at risk of a horrific death from cervical cancer than that teenagers should have get a vaccine and, thus, in the minds of the sex-obsessed religious far right, be "encouraged" to have pre-marital sex, if in response to this you can do anything other than rush to vote for real Christians and other genuinely moral people who support making scientific and medical decisions based on scientific and medical evidence rather than on the basis of what gives them the most control over other people, well, then, you are not a Christian and have no business to be lecturing other people on what Christians believe and value."

I can't imagine opposing a useful vaccine - and I'll confess I know nothing about the particular one you are touting. Is this another issue where you disagree with your church? Maybe you need a different church. And what's with all the name-calling and motive-attributing going on there? ("Sex obsessed" and "needing to control others") Can't you just state your own case & not put words into other's mouths and thoughts in their heads??? Don't you understand you just weaken your own case when you do?

Thanks for the lecture on "real" Christianity....I'm glad to see you are an open-minded person who doesn't proclaim God to be on your side and all others to be heretics and infidels.....ahem...

John Scalzi | May 21, 2006 10:24 AM

Chris Gabel:

"I'm completely convinced you really don't know the people you have so brutally slandered."

Which proves only that you don't know much about me. I could walk you through my family to prove the point, but I won't.

As for the rest of it, Chris, I'll point you to Matthew 7:16-20:

By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

One has to ask what the fruits of the religious right philosophy have been, and to my mind the fruit of the philosophy is power rather than justice. I would allow that many in the religious right mean well, and that some may even wish for justice in a larger sense, but the result of their actions show that the gap between their possible intention and their actual results is wide and not especially Christ-like.

So, no, it's not slander to observe that the religious right is notably un-Christ-like in its pursuit of its political agenda, nor is it slander to note that those who follow the agenda of the religious right are, at the very least, abetting a political agenda that is more concerned with power than justice, and which is in many places entirely unjust. I don't doubt many of these people have good hearts, but from my point of view it's their actions that matter.

(Also, from a purely pedantic point of view, it would be libel, not slander, but I wrote it rather than said it. But it's not libel, either.)

I would be delighted for those in the religious right to show me that justice matters to them, through their deeds, not their words. I await that day with great anticipation.

Brian Greenberg | May 21, 2006 10:47 AM

John: first, I think you're probably spot-on in your distinction between the "religious, non-religious-right" and the "religious left." Although to be completely fair to the Washington Post, the quoted half a dozen or so people who refer to themselves as the religious left, so maybe it's these folks who are being lazy, not the reporters. Or, more likley, maybe the activists understand that it's more effective to call yourself the "religious left" than to explain to the constituents the concept of the "religious non-religious-right." In any case, interesting article.

I have one other question, though (and I'm sure I'll get my head handed to me for asking, but what the hell...): What makes you say the religious right is "tremendously politically powerful?"

I'll grant you that they seem to get a lot of people elected, but if you look at their goals, they appear to be the most ineffective political lobbying group in decades:

- They want to see abortion illegal in all cases, and yet it's legal in all 50 states.
- They want a ban on gay marriage, and yet ironically, it's the Bush administration that will go down in history as presiding over the first legal gay marriages in our nation's history.
- They want Intelligent Design taught in our schools, and yet schools have rejected it across the country.
- They want to eliminate sexual education and the distribution of birth control to young people, and yet that continues (relatively) unabated.
- They wanted bans on everything from flag burning to illegal immigration and have been unsuccessful in all of them.
- They've promoted several constitutional ammendments, none of which have come close to passing.
- Heck, they even wanted to keep Terry Schiavo alive, and didn't get that either.

I think one could logically argue that either a) the religious right is smart enough to use these issues to get elected, but never actually implement any of it to avoid a public backlash, or b) incompetent enough to fail in implementing their legislative agenda despite big wins at the polls.

They've certainly made great strides in monopolizing the media, and their ideas tend to win elections, but "tremendously politically powerful?" I'm not sure I see it...

John Scalzi | May 21, 2006 11:13 AM

Brian Greenberg:

"They've certainly made great strides in monopolizing the media, and their ideas tend to win elections, but "tremendously politically powerful?" I'm not sure I see it..."

The religious right entirely drives the social platform of one of the two major political parties in the United States, which seems pretty powerful to me. Nor does the every victory take place with a vote; there a number of policy positions in the Adminstration where the religous right point of view is exercised. One obvious example is the Plan B contraceptive, which the FDA has barred from making available over the counter despite the overwhelmingly large vote for its approval from its advisory panels. I don't know where you're getting the idea that sex education continues "unabated" either, since Texas, for one, pushes "abstinence-only" sex education championed by the religious right, despite the fact that "abstinence-only" sex education is not notably helpful in keeping teens from having sex.

There are lots of ways the religious right makes an impact on politics, votes aside. If you don't see it, it doesn't mean it's not happening. This is not to suggest that the rr is some sort of shadowy conspiracy, of course -- that's silly. It is to suggest that the rr has a lot of very smart, very motivated people working very diligently at all levels of government to promote the agenda. I do admire its organization and drive, although not so much its overall goals.

Chris Gabel | May 21, 2006 11:40 AM

Mr. Scalzi:

Well, that was a marvelously deft bit of evasion....quote one scripture, assume it supports your point and move on. I know you believe in "justice" - however you concieve it (and you don't bother to elaborate). And apparently we go on your say-so that the religious right doesn't.....(yawn)...

I'm sorry you don't like your family, John. No doubt they are utterly representative of the people you have contempt for...

Well, you've said many times you write for expression and not for persuasion.... It feels so good to vent one's spleen, eh?

Taeyoung | May 21, 2006 11:44 AM

The contemporary religious right is tremendously politically powerful, but it is almost wholly unconcerned about justice -- it has political and social policies that explicitly abandon or punish those who do not share its worldview, and it has a worldview which is not notably compassionate or charitable, so that leaves out quite a lot. Promoting a discriminatory agenda, promoting ignorance in public education and promoting one's religion above all others in the political arena is not justice in any moral sense of the word.

I don't think this is a fair characterisation. It's not justice in your sense of the word, but then, many redistributive "social justice" endeavours do not look like justice in my sense of the word, but get called "justice" anyhow. I'm pretty sure they're aiming for justice as they see it.

What the religious right is trying to do is create a righteous society, according to their understanding of virtue. And that means a just society, in whcih people receive their just rewards. Justice, for them, penalises the wicked, in proportion with their sin, and rewards the virtuous in proportion with their virtue. It must deter wickedness (i.e. no contraception, because that creates economic "moral hazard" to engage in immoral sexual behaviour), and promote virtue (mainly by coming down hard on wickedness).

Justice also does not necessarily mean mercy or compassion; indeed, they are often expressed as contrasting. E.g. Justice sentences a man to die, and mercy commutes his sentence. Justice punishes a wrong, and compassion extends forgiveness for that wrong.

Now, you may consider theirs an abominable vision of justice -- I do too, in certain respects, although despite being an atheist, I'm not really revolted by them the way a lot of people seem to be; their vision is merely quixotic, and doomed (like socialism) to failure and oppression as men just refuse to respond the way they want. But to say that they're concerned with power alone ignores the crucial thing about them: as a movement (i.e. as distinct from their leaders), they pursue power so they can implement policies they think will tend to push society in the direction of their vision of the good society. Of the just society.

John Scalzi | May 21, 2006 12:05 PM

Chris Gabel:

"Well, that was a marvelously deft bit of evasion....quote one scripture, assume it supports your point and move on."

It does support my point, Chris. I can't help your lack of reading comprehension. As for not "elaborating" on what my concept of justice is here, it would seem you've gone and spent all this time commenting on an entry you didn't actually bother to read, and again, I can't help you there. Since you seem to be unwilling or unable to make heads or tales of what I've written here, I suggest you move on.

Taeyoung:

"I'm pretty sure they're aiming for justice as they see it."

That may be. It's not justice as I suspect Christ would see it, however, and moreover I see the drive for justice, if it is there, being lost in the drive for power.

Chris Gabel | May 21, 2006 12:34 PM

John:

Since you are now accusing me of being a dunderhead, try patronizing me a little and explain HOW your selected scripture applies. Please. Your comments seem to assume much. And to borrow from a bad old joke....assuming too much just makes an

Ass (out of) u (and) me

Simon | May 21, 2006 12:37 PM

Brian Greenburg suggests that the religious right has not been able to enact its agenda:

"They want to see abortion illegal in all cases, and yet it's legal in all 50 states." Your count of states is a little off there. In South Dakota, in case you hadn't heard, it's currently illegal except to save the woman's life. Even before that was passed, there was only one part-time abortion provider in the state, who came in once a month, I think, from Minnesota. Not being able to overturn Roe outright, the anti-choice movement has worked incrementally and done a very effective job. After Roe, abortion should have been easily available. Now in most places it's effectively difficult or even impossible to get.

"They want a ban on gay marriage, and yet ironically, it's the Bush administration that will go down in history as presiding over the first legal gay marriages in our nation's history." You'll have to tell me which ones those are, because every attempt at legal gay marriage I've heard of has been either suspended or overturned by the courts.

"They want Intelligent Design taught in our schools, and yet schools have rejected it across the country." A few public schools, yes, but what goes on at private schools I shudder to think of.

"They want to eliminate sexual education and the distribution of birth control to young people, and yet that continues (relatively) unabated." Your definition of "unabated" and "relatively" are extremely loose.

"They wanted bans on everything from flag burning to illegal immigration and have been unsuccessful in all of them." Actually, there's already a ban on illegal immigration. That's why it's called "illegal" immigration. So they won that one before they started. Perhaps what you meant was that they want to stop the immigrants from coming. That's a bit more difficult (a guy named Canute might have been able to explain that one), and there's not much in domestic politics that can be done to do so.

"They've promoted several constitutional ammendments, none of which have come close to passing." Since very few proposed constitutional amendments pass, the fact that these things have come seriously to the table, and have been supported by Presidents, is a significant achievement.

"Heck, they even wanted to keep Terry Schiavo alive, and didn't get that either." Unfortunately, she was already dead. Only the refusal to acknowledge this fact put any issue on the table at all.

Lis Carey | May 21, 2006 12:41 PM

Chris, maybe you need start thinking in terms of having a serious discussion rather than scoring debating points (real or imagined.)

You seem to be a little confused on some points, though, so let me clarify:

In saying that I "say" I'm a Catholic, but disagree with my Church, you must be referring to abortion and contraception, since, being the observant, knowledgable person about the Catholic Church that you obviously are, you know that the Catholic Church issued its first cautious statements in favor of evolution in 1901, and that Catholic schools have been teaching evolution in science classes for the better part of a century. You're also, of course, aware that the Catholic Church has at best very mixed feelings about mandatory prayer in the public schools, because, strangely, these "neutral" prayers (how would one do that, anyway?) always seem to be explicitly sectarian in ways that exclude some members of the community. (Like, for instance, Catholics, or Mormons. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, do some research. Google should be sufficient to find the most egregious examples.)
I'm opposed to abortion. I'm in favor, though, of effective opposition to abortion--i.e., the kind that actually saves unborn babies and otherwise prevents abortions. This would pretty much exclude the kind of opposition that harrasses and intimidates women going into women's health clinics for routine prenatal care, or bans procedures used late in pregnancy, when the baby WAS very much wanted, but something has gone horribly wrong, without providing the kinds of services and social support that makes poor women, or very young women, believe that they have no practical alternative except abortion. (You'll also have noticed, of course, that the Catholic Church strongly supports those social services and support.) And yes, this means that in practice I disagree with the current hierarchy of the Catholic Church on contraception--just like the vast majority of Catholics. And since contraception is not a question of faith or dogma, we're free to do so without breaking with the Catholic Church. Would you like to take a random guess at how long believing, faithful, practicing Catholics have been arguing with Rome about moral issues, without crying out "let's call the whole thing off" ?

I am not one of those who needs to believe in a 6000 year old world in order to have a high view of the authenticity of scripture. On the other hand, your harsh criticism of those who do strikes me as utterly unnecessary & unkind. What's wrong with simply saying they are honestly mistaken?

What's wrong with saying that they're honestly mistaken, is that they're not. The scientific evidence for evolution is as overwhelming and convincing as it's possible to be, for anything that we can't watch happening with our own eyes. Not believing in evolution, or claiming not to, requires either great ignorance, or great dishonesty. Any articulate advocate of "Intelligent Design" is condemned out of their own mouth, or their own text, as deliberate liars.

You want a useful citation from the Bible favoring using government means rather than strictly and exclusively private means to help the poor? How about "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me." We're supposed to actually help the poor, the sick, and the vulnerable, not go through empty motions that make us feel good. Church-organized charity as a primary response was effective when the Church was the largest, most powerful, and most widespread institution in the western world. Since the middle ages, though, we've undergone some changes, both in the size and complexity of society, and in the size, geographic reach, and effective ability to act of civil government. And at the same time, the Church (any Church, take your pick) does not have the same reach and power that it did then, relative to society as a whole. Relief of the poor and the sick has never been, in the eyes of Christians, primarily the concern of private charity, not since Christians ceased to be a despised and persecuted minority, and became able to organize charitable relief more effectively. We're required to do our best to really help, not just make ourselves feel better. And while private charity can do wonderful things on a small scale, it's not enough by itself to address the problems of a large, complex, mobile, and diverse modern society. And that's why Christians are morally bound to support tax-funded social programs.

As for the HPV vaccine--it's a new vaccine, which should be on the market late spring or early summer. It appears to be completely safe, and 100% effective, or near enough as makes no difference, and the vaccine it guards against is the one that causes cervical cancer in women. Currently what's under discussion is who it should be recommended for, and whether it should be required for school attendance, as other vaccines are. And if you can't imagine opposing a useful vaccine, well, the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family disagree with you:
http://today.reuters.com/investing/financeArticle.aspx?type=governmentFilingsNews&storyID=2006-05-21T154230Z_01_N21244842_RTRIDST_0_BIZFEATURE-MERCK-VACCINE.XML

I call them "sex-obsessed" because they think the fact that HPV is sexually transmitted trumps everything else in the discussion of how the vaccine should be treated.

John Scalzi | May 21, 2006 12:42 PM

Simon:

"You'll have to tell me which ones those are, because every attempt at legal gay marriage I've heard of has been either suspended or overturned by the courts."

Well, there is Massachusetts, which has several thousand legally married same-sex couples at this point.

However, none of those legally married couples has the same legal rights on the federal level as married opposite-sex couples.

John Scalzi | May 21, 2006 01:14 PM

Chris Gabel:

Since I missed it the first time:

"I'm sorry you don't like your family, John."

Hmmmm. This best response here is probably direct, so: Fuck you, Chris. I don't agree with the politics of some of my family members, but that's not the same thing as not liking or loving them. You'd do well not to try that sort of cheap rhetorical maneuver again.

"Since you are now accusing me of being a dunderhead, try patronizing me a little and explain HOW your selected scripture applies. Please."

I'm not accusing you of being a dunderhead. You seem intelligent enough. I am accusing you of not actually reading what's being written, and/or possibly choosing not to understand what's being written here. Clearly this is an emotional topic for you and it appears you're letting that get in your way.

I explained the scriptual reference right after I gave it: the "fruits" of the religious right's political agenda have been an interest in power rather than justice. As noted in the original entry, the political agenda of the religious right is divisive, discriminatory, coercive and promotes ignorance, none of which is about justice but which is about power. I gave examples of this in the original entry and others have done so as well in the thread. The religious right, and those who support its agenda, deserved to be appraised by those political fruits.

Again, I'd love for the religious right to show in its deeds that it is concerned about justice more than power, but given its decades-long political track record, I'm not holding my breath.

Chris Gabel | May 21, 2006 01:32 PM

Scalzi sez:

"Since I missed it the first time:

"I'm sorry you don't like your family, John."

Hmmmm. This best response here is probably direct, so: Fuck you, Chris. I don't agree with the politics of some of my family members, but that's not the same thing, but that's not the same thing as not liking or loving them. You'd do well not to try that sort of cheap rhetorical maneuver again."

Obviously I missed something. You used your family as an example in explaining why you knew a lot about people whom you consider "divisive, discriminatory, coercive and promote ignorance." I'm dead wrong. This is how you desribe people you like and admire. Fuck me, I'm an idiot. Your logic is unassailable.

As far as your other long-winded list of assertions go....it's not an arguement. I STILL don't know what issues or positions you are referring to. "by your fruits you shall know them" is a great verse - how you are applying it is still a mystery to me. Apparently for you "bad fruit" is disagreeing with John on a political issue. You don't need to explain WHY they are wrong. They just are, dammit! Live with it! Um, OK....

You say you gave examaples in your original entry. I suggest you reread it. You give platitudes about justice and power. It's fine if you don't want to engage my questions. Just admit it.

John Scalzi | May 21, 2006 02:04 PM

Chris Gabel:

"Obviously I missed something."

Quite obviously you have, Chris. People can and do hold differing political and moral opinions and still like or love each other. There are a number of people in my family whose politics I think are divisive and discriminatory and pretty damn stupid. They're also my family and I love them as people. Jesus would approve.

"You say you gave examaples in your original entry. I suggest you reread it."

I don't have to re-read it; I wrote it. They're there, and again, I'm not responsible for your reading comprehension. If you can't see them, it's because you don't want to see them, because apparently everyone else in the thread has picked up on them just fine. The alternative is that you are in fact, a complete moron, and we both know that's not the case. The only other explanation is that possibly you can't see anything that's not written into a bulleted PowerPoint format, but again, even if that's true, which I suspect it is not, that's not my problem.

"You give platitudes about justice and power. It's fine if you don't want to engage my questions. Just admit it."

Chris, your questions have been more than adequately engaged all over this thread, by me and others. I'm not responsible for making you see that, and at this point, it's clear there's not much point in trying to make you see it, because you don't want to and I'm not inclined to do all your mental heavy lifting for you.

So I'll repeat what I said earlier: Since you seem to be unwilling or unable to make heads or tales of what I've written here, I suggest you move on.

Simon | May 21, 2006 02:08 PM

John: If they don't have the legal rights that go along with being married for anybody else, they're not married. It's just "domestic partnership" with a misleading name slapped on it.

Chris: If you're really baffled as to what Jesus's words have to do with John's post, then dunderhead would be a remarkably restrained word. Here's a key to the metaphor.

Good fruit = justice

Bad fruit = unjust power

Did you really need that explained to you?

CoolBlue | May 21, 2006 02:18 PM

Lis Carey

CoolBlue, those are lovely statistics showing that religious people give more to private charity than nonreligious people, and volunteer more. But the question was, how is it working out? For the people who actually need the help? Because helping the poor, the sick, or the otherwise-distressed is not just about demonstrating that you're A Good Person; it's about actually doing some effective good.

Um, OK. But what metrics do we use? What objective measures are you using and where is the data?

I don't know if the charities people are donating to are "effective" or not, but I suspect you don't know either.

My guess is some programs are more effective than others. But its probably true that if it is your intention to help people, donating money and volunteering is more likely to help someone than not.

Agreed?

And if you prefer less-effective means to more-effective means because you get a more immediate sensation of Doing Good, sorry, that's like the man praying on the street corner rather than in the privacy of his own room. And you do know what Jesus said about that, right?

I don't know what your frame of reference is. My guess is that if a person is effectively helped, by whatever definition we use, that person probably doesn't care what your motives are.

But I just don't get what it is you are arguing. It seems too general to me. Is there some particular program you have a problem with?

mythago | May 21, 2006 03:48 PM

You'll have to tell me which ones those are, because every attempt at legal gay marriage I've heard of has been either suspended or overturned by the courts.

First of all, it's same-sex marriage, not "gay marriage". Sheesh.

That aside, you need to listen harder, because it's flat-out false that courts have suspended or overturned same-sex marriage. Try Hawaii (where the Court's ruling on marriage was mooted by amending the state Constitution); Massachusetts, as John pointed out, and California, where a ruling that opposite-sex-only marriage is discriminatory is working its way up the appellate chain.

Patrick | May 21, 2006 05:36 PM

My solution to the abortion dilemna is to perfect the uterine replicator and the surgical techniques for the transfer of the fetus and placenta.

On same sex marriage, many states in addition to explicitly banning same-sex marrriage are also banning _ANY_ new legal status that would confer or recognize the same rights that married people enjoy to any couple who are not "married". These efforts are driven by the "religious right" or those pandering to them.

CoolBlue | May 21, 2006 06:02 PM

Patrick

These efforts are driven by the "religious right" or those pandering to them.

Is that so?

The Boston Globe carried a story in Feb 2004 which says in part

...the region's black pastors, some long associated with liberal political causes, say they are proud to be speaking out on an issue they consider to be hugely important. Several said that gay marriage would contribute to the further erosion of traditional family structure in the black community.

In Nov 2005, the AP carried a story that read

Pastor Adalid Verastegui with New Life United Methodist Church in Houston said his Hispanic congregants believe the proposed amendment to ban gay marriage is a good idea.
"The Hispanic tradition is to always have in the family a man and a woman in the home," he said. "Our culture doesn't accept this kind of behavior."

I myself could care less and if I was asked to vote on the issue I would vote in favor of gays being able to marry.

But to say that the opposition to gay marriage is a right wing issue is to misrepresent the situation.

In April 2005 the Washington Times reported that

When asked whether they thought same-sex "marriages" should be recognized by the law as valid and come with the same rights as traditional marriages, 68 percent of the respondents in the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll said they should not.

You will have a hard time convincing me that 68% of the American population belong to the "religious right".

If that were the case, we would be in deep do-do.

Ted | May 21, 2006 06:10 PM

Chris: It's very nice that you're religious and also have reasonable views on issues. The religous right, as a whole, judged by their leaders and by the politicians they support, does not. And I am not going to give people who want to impose their religious values on everyone else a pat on the head for joining the political process. And if you vote for Republicans, especially if you vote for some specific Republicans who are darlings of the religious right, you can sit here and explain to me until your voice is hoarse how reasonable your personal views are and my response is going to be the same: "That's nice, but you vote for bad people with unreasonable and evil (in effect if not in intent) views."

CoolBlue | May 21, 2006 06:52 PM

Ted

And if you vote for Republicans, especially if you vote for some specific Republicans who are darlings of the religious right, you can sit here and explain to me until your voice is hoarse how reasonable your personal views are and my response is going to be the same: "That's nice, but you vote for bad people with unreasonable and evil (in effect if not in intent) views."

The very same could be said for voting Democrat.

So what is your solution? Don't vote?

Generally speaking, we don't elect extremists. Either on the right or the left.

And the fact is, the US is a bit right of center in general.

So long as the voting population remains "autonomous, decentralized and diverse" (as James Surowiecki put it), I think we'll manage to muddle along in a generally acceptable way.

"Evil" notwithstanding.

Euan | May 21, 2006 08:58 PM

CoolClue: "My guess is some programs are more effective than others. But its probably true that if it is your intention to help people, donating money and volunteering is more likely to help someone than not."

This is true--but trivial. The choice is not between giving and not-giving; it's whether giving to charity or 'giving' to the government is more effective in terms of alleviating suffering.

While giving to charity (in terms of money or time) may be effective locally, it may also be ineffective at a larger scale. Charities naturally focus themselves on a particular area, and there's no guarantee that the charities which are most effective at gathering funds are also the charities that deal with the people who need help most.

The same is true for the government, of course, but I'd argue to a lesser extent than for private charities.

Patrick | May 22, 2006 01:34 AM

To CoolBlue

I have met people you described, generally liberal on most issues and also opposed to gay marriage (and any other legal equivalents) and would vote for such a ban. But, they (the folks I met above) are not out there actively campaigning for such a ban.

Every single personally I have come across actively campaigning for the ban were all members of the "religious right" promising all sorts of dire things should gay couples have access to the same rights as heterosexual couples.

CoolBlue | May 22, 2006 07:11 AM

Euan

This is true--but trivial. The choice is not between giving and not-giving; it's whether giving to charity or 'giving' to the government is more effective in terms of alleviating suffering.

While giving to charity (in terms of money or time) may be effective locally, it may also be ineffective at a larger scale. Charities naturally focus themselves on a particular area, and there's no guarantee that the charities which are most effective at gathering funds are also the charities that deal with the people who need help most.

If that's what is meant by "effective" I completely disagree. But then again I would: I'm a Federalist. But I'm a Federalist for a reason. And that reason is that I think the farther you are removed from a situation, the less effective you are at being able to deal with problems locally.

A local charity not only knows where the resources could most effectively be applied, but they also know the players: they know who is a scam artist and who really needs help. They can perform triage more effectively by knowing which families or individuals are in the greatest need and which can wait.

They also tend not to waste resources because they know precisely what people need.

I simply can not fathom the logic that concludes that someone sitting in Washington knows what is needed in Peoria.

Chris Gabel | May 22, 2006 09:26 AM

Scalzi sez:

"People can and do hold differing political and moral opinions and still like or love each other."

Actually, that was my point, however crudely done. And I'm glad you can do that with your family, if not your neighbors. And by neighbors, I'm refering to your fellow citizens.

Brian Greenberg | May 22, 2006 09:26 AM

John:
Since you seem to be unwilling or unable to make heads or tales of what I've written here,

OK, the first time, I assumed it was a typo, but now you've written it twice. Did you mean "tails," or is that an intentional (and pretty awesome) double entendre?

Chris Gabel | May 22, 2006 09:38 AM

Simon sez:

"Good fruit = justice

Bad fruit = unjust power

Did you really need that explained to you?"

You seem to be of the lefty paradigm, where everything is about group power & rights. That school is convinced that, well basically, Jesus was a socialist. Silly idea that. Jesus was about as apolitical as they come. He never even had anything nasty to say about the Romans, who were the very definition of oppressors.

I'd truly like to know what you mean by justice - you seem to think it's a wonderful thing. Did Jesus come to bring justice? Or mercy and grace? Personally, I prefer the latter.

Brian Greenberg | May 22, 2006 09:58 AM

John
The religious right entirely drives the social platform of one of the two major political parties in the United States, which seems pretty powerful to me. Nor does the every victory take place with a vote; there a number of policy positions in the Adminstration where the religous right point of view is exercised.

I don't mean to pull a Chris Gabel on this one, but I don't see your point here. If you mean the personal views of many of our leaders are religious-right oriented, I say, "Meh," unless those views start effecting the laws of the land. If you mean that by being in office, they create public dialog on these issues, then I say that's an exceedingly good thing. I'd rather have us discuss and reject Intelligent Design than not discuss it at all. Other than that, I can't see how Congress "drives the social platform" without passing legislation.

One obvious example is the Plan B contraceptive, which the FDA has barred from making available over the counter despite the overwhelmingly large vote for its approval from its advisory panels. I don't know where you're getting the idea that sex education continues "unabated" either, since Texas, for one, pushes "abstinence-only" sex education championed by the religious right, despite the fact that "abstinence-only" sex education is not notably helpful in keeping teens from having sex.

I said relatively unabated (if I've learned anything in these pages, it's to choose my words carefully). I believe Texas is in the extreme minority here, although I could easily be wrong...

Simon
You seem to have mistaken my statement that the religious right hasn't succeeded as a claim that they've failed in every case. I didn't say that. To wit:

In South Dakota, in case you hadn't heard, [abortion] is currently illegal except to save the woman's life. Even before that was passed, there was only one part-time abortion provider in the state, who came in once a month, I think, from Minnesota.

According to these folks, 6% of all pregnancies in South Dakota resulted in induced abortion (stats from 2000 - best I could find). That's well below the national average of ~21%. Then again, the number of pregnancies (13,500) is well below the average of 126,000 as well. My point: South Dakota is at the tail end of the bell curve.

You'll have to tell me which ones those are, because every attempt at legal gay marriage I've heard of has been either suspended or overturned by the courts.

Others have jumped to my defense on this one. I believe you can add New York to the list cited above. I know several same-sex marriages were performed in upstate New York a little while back, and I never heard about any successful attempt to annul them.

A few public schools, yes, but what goes on at private schools I shudder to think of.

That's a red herring. Private schools set their own rules. With or without political power, the religious right is free to have their own schools (as is the agnostic left, the atheist center, etc., etc.)

Actually, there's already a ban on illegal immigration. That's why it's called "illegal" immigration.

Wow - you haven't been reading the news lately, I guess. Thousands of people immigrate illegally each year, and there's currently a huge debate raging about whether to arrest them, deport them, grant them amnesty, create a guest worker program, etc. The religious right has been pushing for the "send them back & build a wall to keep them out" position, which they have not successfully secured (nor does it seem they will).


Patrick
On same sex marriage, many states in addition to explicitly banning same-sex marrriage are also banning _ANY_ new legal status that would confer or recognize the same rights that married people enjoy to any couple who are not "married".

I think what you mean to say is many states are trying to ban new legal status, etc. Which, of course, is not the same thing at all. My original point was that these efforts almost always fail, causing me to question how much power the religious right really has these days.

A disclaimer of sorts: I'm not minimizing doctrines of hatred, exclusion or discrimination. Nor am I suggesting people stop opposing them. All I'm saying is that the opposition has been vastly more succesful for quite some time now.

John Scalzi | May 22, 2006 10:17 AM

Chris Gabel:

"Heads or tales": It's a typo, although an interesting one.

"And I'm glad you can do that with your family, if not your neighbors. And by neighbors, I'm refering to your fellow citizens."

(rolls eyes)

You know, Chris, aside from your persistent and entirely annoying need to attribute personality models to me that aren't accurate, I'm not entirely sure what you want out of this conversation, other than a pat on the head and a reassurance that you're a nice guy, despite your need to rationalize other people's following a political agenda I find hateful, unjust and un-Christlike. Fine. This is me patting you on the head, and telling you you're a nice guy, despite your need to rationalize other people's following a political agenda I find hateful, unjust and un-Christlike.

Other people who follow the religious rights' political precepts who also want a pat on the head and assurance they're nice people will also surely get one, although I will also tell them that I find their political policies are bitter, divisive, hateful, discriminatory, ignorance-inspiring and appallingly un-Christlike, and it's a real shame they think Jesus would approve of it, and a shame that such nice people would want to enact such an unjust agenda.

I think what you're looking for is the suggestion that I think it's okay that these people pursue their political agenda on the grounds that as long as they're nice people, it doesn't matter. Will, clearly, I don't think that way. I think the political agenda of the religious right is crap, and the fact that people are nice people doesn't hide that fact. Being nice is not an excuse for being unjust.

"Did Jesus come to bring justice? Or mercy and grace?"

Interesting you think you can have the latter without the former.

Brian Greenberg:

"If you mean that by being in office, they create public dialog on these issues, then I say that's an exceedingly good thing. I'd rather have us discuss and reject Intelligent Design than not discuss it at all."

Crap. Not a goddamned bit of good came from wasting time discussing and rejecting "intelligent design" -- it merely took away time from teaching children genuine science and time our politicians could have used to discuss things that are genuinely useful and relevant.

It's not to say that every concern the religious right has is irrelevant; I don't mind having a discussion about same-sex marriage, for example, because I think its a discussion relevant to our national character. But saying that discussion and a discussion of "intelligent design" are equally worthy discussions is crap. The fact we spent any time at all discussing the ignorant junk science of ID -- much less had to bat back attempts to have it taught in schools, and live in a world where teachers in some states and places avoid teaching evolution at all suggests a blithe dismissal of the religious right's political power is probably premature.

mythago | May 22, 2006 11:04 AM

I simply can not fathom the logic that concludes that someone sitting in Washington knows what is needed in Peoria.

You believe we should go back to being a Confederacy? You can't fathom the concept of federalism?

John Scalzi | May 22, 2006 11:15 AM

Also, I'm sure Roy LaHood would take exception to that comment.

CoolBlue | May 22, 2006 11:40 AM

Mythago

You believe we should go back to being a Confederacy? You can't fathom the concept of federalism?

First, I clearly stated that I am in favor of Federalism.

And since there are varying definitions of these things I will say that by that I mean that the Federal Government should, generally speaking, be no more or less powerful than a State government.

A Confederacy, the way I am used to using the word means a weak Federal government and strong state governments. And while I like the idea in theory, I worry about it in practice.

But in any case, my point I thought was clear: With regards to provding human services, I think that the most effective use of resources comes when the people closest to the needs are making the decisions.

Having worked with NGOs in the past, I can say that I have enough experience to know that this is true provided the helping organization actually has the intention and the organizational ability to provide help.

Brian Greenberg | May 22, 2006 12:38 PM

First of all, it was I that caught the typo, not Chris. If someone's going to get "guest editor" points here, I want it to be me. ;-)

Regarding the power of the religious right, I'm thinking we've reached agreement here. Their political positions are reprehensible: Check. Their attempts to convert those positions into laws should be fought and defeated: Check. My only point was that we've been very successful at doing this for a long time now.

Re: intelligent design - I know this is a hot-button issue for you. But I disagree that "Not a goddamned bit of good came from wasting time discussing and rejecting intelligent design." The discussion raised the public consciousness about what it is, and it stands a lesser chance of ever getting passed in the future because of it. I, for one, know a lot more about it than I did when you first brought it up, at which time, if you recall, teaching it in school didn't sound like such a bad idea to me. The background you provided on who these people are and the political agenda they're advancing made me more aware. So count me among the educated. Should northern New Jersey suddenly decide to pull a stunt like that, they'll have a harder time now. AND I still believe in evolution. All good things, no?


John Scalzi | May 22, 2006 12:39 PM

Yeah, okay. You win this round, Brian Greenberg!

Lis Carey | May 22, 2006 12:50 PM

CoolBlue--the problem is that, while the people closest to the needs are (usually) in the best position to know what's needed, it is not, to pick a fairly current example, the people of New Orleans, or even the people of Louisiana, who are currently in the best position to provide the resources needed.

Governments got invented, and keep getting reinvented when they're absent or broken, because there are many things for which harnessing the resources of the whole society makes good, practical sense.

And shocking as the idea apparently is to some people, no, the locals don't always know best, and sometimes that more distant perspective is not only useful, but vital.

And, while no one's taking any quizes here, nevertheless, I think I'll throw in an "extra credit" kind of question: Who, exactly, were the Federalists, and what was their constitutional philosophy? Do any of today's "federalists" remember?

Jon Marcus | May 22, 2006 01:09 PM

Brian:

So you're saying that the discussion of stupid idea is a good thing, because it helps people realize how stupid those ideas are? The problem is we could spend an awful lot of time that way, because there are a quite a few stupid ideas out there.

Certainly once an idea's out there it's better to discuss it openly than to ignore it and let it fester. But (and I think this was John's point) we'd have been much better off if the RR hadn't brought (or hadn't been able to bring) this particular stupid idea into the mainstream.

Cool Blue:

I'm coming late to this discussion, but I have to say that I was really disappointed in your comment (May 20, 2006 05:33 PM): "I've reread the article and I've reconsidered my position." That's exactly the kind of thing that undercuts the true purpose it the internets. (Flame wars!)

Your line should have been: "John, you ignorant slut!" I hope you'll do better in the future.

CoolBlue | May 22, 2006 01:14 PM

Lis Carey

And shocking as the idea apparently is to some people, no, the locals don't always know best, and sometimes that more distant perspective is not only useful, but vital.

Granted, but 9 out of 10 times the locals know. It's good to point to Katrina for a number of reasons because it highlights, or should highlight, all the other hurricanes that were handled much better with locals in chage and the Feds in support.

Katrina was the exception in part because Louisiana has one of the most corrupt state governments in the US.

But in this case, I think the exception proves the rule.

But I am interested in knowing if this is what you originally meant by "effective"?

Who, exactly, were the Federalists, and what was their constitutional philosophy? Do any of today's "federalists" remember?

Sure. Alexander Hamilton was probably the intellectual father of Federalism given that he not only instigated the project that resulted in The Federalist Papers, but also wrote most of the Constitution.

And I would argue that his (their) position was pretty much what I have previously stated: They were against a Confederacy and were for strong constituent political centers (States) to provide a check against an overpowering and overreaching Federal government.

Why, do you think it's something different?

Lis Carey | May 22, 2006 01:56 PM

If you think that, absent corruption, New Orleans could have, out of local resources, rebuilt New Orleans, or that Louisiana and Mississippi wouldn't have been seriously challenged to rebuild everything destroyed in those states without federal funds, you may need to revisit some basics. BTW, federal dollars were also present in quantity in all the other major hurricanes in recent decades. In fact, in Florida in 2004, federal funds were being handed out quite freely.

As for your description of the Federalists--I think Alexander Hamilton would have difficulty recognizing it. The Federalists were the ones pushing for a very powerful central government; the Anti-Federalists were committed to keeping the states strong and the federal government relatively weak. The eventual state of approximate balance was a mostly happy outcome, but one entirely unintended by any of the original contestants in the matter. And even at that, the balance was only ever approximate: The power to make war, coin money, control international trade, and ban tariffs on interstate trade always gave a considerable edge to the federal government. And it's a point worth repeating: all the powers that define a sovereign state were explicitly reserved to the federal government, and accomplishing that transfer was the purpose of replacing the Articles of Confederacy.

Ronald Reagan got away with calling his tilt towards the states (except when he didn't tilt towards the states) "federalism" only because of the profound historical illiteracy that's been allowed to develop in this country.

Brian Greenberg | May 22, 2006 02:28 PM

Jon Marcus:
Certainly once an idea's out there it's better to discuss it openly than to ignore it and let it fester. But (and I think this was John's point) we'd have been much better off if the RR hadn't brought (or hadn't been able to bring) this particular stupid idea into the mainstream.

Well, sure, but we don't get to decide that, do we? There is no agreed upon standard for stupidity, and so telling others that raising their idea was a waste of time because you consider it stupid is a slippery slope indeed.

Sunlight is the great purifier. We have enough people (and blogs, and 24-hour news channels, and newspapers, and...and...and...) to discuss lots of ideas. The stupid ones will ultimately evaporate in their own stupidity.

CoolBlue | May 22, 2006 02:31 PM

Lis Carey

If you think that, absent corruption, New Orleans could have, out of local resources, rebuilt New Orleans, or that Louisiana and Mississippi wouldn't have been seriously challenged to rebuild everything destroyed in those states without federal funds, you may need to revisit some basics.

I don't think I said that. First, the disaster and its aftermath are two different things. In almost every other case, Florida being a good example, local Disaster Preparedness centers have a plan which they executed and looked to FEMA or other Federal Agencies for support. New Orleans had a plan too, they just didn't follow it.

After, with cleanup and rebuilding, sure the Federal Government may provide money, but how it is to be spent, to be effective, will have to involve locals.

Of course in the case of New Orleans, and Louisiana in general, I would be keepin a very close watch on just where and how that money gets spent....

The point is I have zero problem with the Federal government being a support organization for local governments.

But what we were originally talking about was private charities and how effective they are. And I simply do not buy into the idea that they are not effective because there is no government involved. I have worked with some very effective NGOs as I have said and the one I liked best, itself served as a support agent to the people they were trying to help.

The Federalists were the ones pushing for a very powerful central government; the Anti-Federalists were committed to keeping the states strong and the federal government relatively weak.

Well, but strong is a relative term. Yes, Federalists wanted a Federal Government that was stronger than what the Anti-Federalists wanted, but they did not want so strong so that a State as a political entity was near or non-existent.

I would say that today, the Federal Government has more powers than what the Federalists (and, obviously, the Confederalists) of the day would have deemed desireable. Congress has (ab)used the Commerce Clause of Article I to grab more power than, I think, is warranted by the intent of the Constitution.

This is why Federalists today think more power should go to the States, but not all power. I see it as I have said previously, the Federal Government should have no more and no less power than the States; they should operate in different, but overlapping, spheres.

Jon Marcus

Your line should have been: "John, you ignorant slut!"

I thought of that, but I was worried John would get the wrong idea...

Jon Marcus | May 22, 2006 02:59 PM

Brian, we don't get to decide what's stupid? I thought the "everyone's ideas are equally valid" was a lefty fallacy. Of course we get to decide what's stupid. Choosing Intelligent Design as a science curriculum is stupid. (Or dishonest, or both.)

Note that no one here is suggesting that we outlaw such stupidity. Only that it's fair game to call it stupidity. And to suggest that those endorsing said stupidity might be not be the best people to run things.

Phillip J. Birmingham | May 22, 2006 03:18 PM

Which proves only that you don't know much about me. I could walk you through my family to prove the point, but I won't.

Right on.

It amazes me how many people apparently think that non-believers such as myself were grown from vats. To hear them talk, you'd think that none of us have friends or family who believe. I wonder what they'd think if they knew how many of us actually used to be believers!

Brian Greenberg | May 22, 2006 04:17 PM

Brian, we don't get to decide what's stupid? I thought the "everyone's ideas are equally valid" was a lefty fallacy. Of course we get to decide what's stupid. Choosing Intelligent Design as a science curriculum is stupid. (Or dishonest, or both.)

That's not what I said. I said we don't get to decide what ideas are brought up for discussion. If you think ID in a science classroom is stupid, then you should prove it to whomever brought it up (as, btw, you and those who agree with you have...).

Suggesting that they can't discuss it because you think its stupid is the slippery slope.

It's fair game to call it stupidity. And to suggest that those endorsing said stupidity might be not be the best people to run things.

That last part is a good point too. We call it "voting."

mythago | May 22, 2006 08:11 PM

And since there are varying definitions of these things I will say that by that I mean that the Federal Government should, generally speaking, be no more or less powerful than a State government.

That would effectively be a confederacy. We don't have that form of government.

Some of the people in Washington were elected by Peorians. It's not that hard to fathom why those people then get to say what happens in Peoria, or in Austin. Of course, Austinites also get to help put people in Washington, so it all works out.

Chris Gabel | May 22, 2006 09:15 PM

Scalzi sez:

"Interesting you think you can have the latter without the former."

Of course you can...where do you think the expression "justice tempered by mercy" comes from? Fundamentally, justice means getting what you deserve. On that basis, it can be very harsh. It's pretty hard to argue that a murderer doesn't "deserve" the death penalty, or that someone who drank away his paycheck doesn't "deserve" to get evicted & thrown out on the street. It is, in fact, the difference between the Old Testament (or covenant) and the New.

"You know, Chris, aside from your persistent and entirely annoying need to attribute personality models to me that aren't accurate.."

...but you're perfectly willing to do it to them...

"I think what you're looking for is the suggestion that I think it's okay that these people pursue their political agenda on the grounds that as long as they're nice people, it doesn't matter. Will, clearly, I don't think that way. I think the political agenda of the religious right is crap, and the fact that people are nice people doesn't hide that fact. Being nice is not an excuse for being unjust."

Your repeated assertions that they are "hateful, divisive, blah blah blah" is in itself hateful. You are expressing hate for them. Pot, kettle, black. You don't think they're nice people, you hate them.

Hmmm...or perhaps you allow the relative distance the computer offers to say things in a way you would never say them in person...to, say, a member of your family.

John Scalzi | May 22, 2006 09:37 PM

Chris Gabel:

"Your repeated assertions that they are 'hateful, divisive, blah blah blah' is in itself hateful. You are expressing hate for them. Pot, kettle, black. You don't think they're nice people, you hate them."

Well, see, Chris, this is where your reading comprehension problem is cropping up again. I've said their political philosophy is hateful, divisive, etc. I've said nothing about them as people. Religious people have an analogue for this: "Love the sinner, hate the sin."

Now, apparently you can't or won't make the distinction, but as I've said many a time across the course of this thread, your issues are not my problem. But it does explain why you've continued to be so spectacularly wrong about so many things in this thread, and that's helpful to know. I understand you think you know what I think, but this another one of those things you're spectacularly wrong about.

Continuing to talk to you about all of this, however, is not likely to be fruitful, and also, more to the point, I'm tired of talking to you about it. I've invited you a couple of times to move on, Chris, but you appear not to be able to take the hint.

So let me put it this way: This thread is closed to you now, Chris. You are welcome on this site as always, and I'll be happy to chat with you on other topics in other threads. But any further posts from you on this topic, save for a bare acknowledgement of this message, are going to get deleted.

Simon | May 22, 2006 10:33 PM

Brian -

I read the news just fine. There is already a ban on illegal immigration; that's why it's called "illegal" immigration, because there's a ban on it. The current argument you refer to is on how to enforce that ban, or whether the law should be changed. Different question. Now they're talking about the National Guard, and a Berlin-type wall ... this is a question on which the right-wing view has a lot of political heft right now.

OK, I wrote sloppily on the same-sex marriage question (and by the way, Mythago's disgusted "sheesh" at the term "gay marriage" should be applied to you, since you're the one who used it, I was just absent-mindedly copying your usage). But the basic point is: you said same-sex marriage is about to be accepted. I see courts holding injunctions against performing it (in New York and California), voters passing constitutional amendments against it (in Hawaii), and constitutional amendments in preparation (in Massachusetts). That's the current status. The marriages performed before these bans went into effect? Except in Massachusetts, they're at best in legal limbo in the state, and completely unaccepted federally. That's hardly the Bush administration presiding over legal marriages.

Simon | May 22, 2006 10:34 PM

Chris, you lovable nut, that metaphorical equation wasn't my view. It was my summary of John's post.

And the question wasn't whether you agreed with it, but whether you understood what John was saying, which you repeatedly professed yourself incapable of.

Chris Gabel | May 23, 2006 12:16 AM

You can't fire me....I quit!

I confess, John - you may be even more stubborn than me. But it's your forum & I know when I'm getting nowhere.....eventually.

John Scalzi | May 23, 2006 12:27 AM

Heh! Well, Chris, at least we're getting nowhere together. Thanks. And do stick around the site. There are lots of other things to talk about.

Brian Greenberg | May 23, 2006 01:33 AM

Simon:
Now they're talking about the National Guard, and a Berlin-type wall ... this is a question on which the right-wing view has a lot of political heft right now.

Right - political heft. But they're still not getting what they want (felony status for illegals, closed borders, etc.)

you said same-sex marriage is about to be accepted.

Where, exactly, did I say such a thing?

Except in Massachusetts, they're at best in legal limbo in the state, and completely unaccepted federally. That's hardly the Bush administration presiding over legal marriages.

Heh... I figured that would be hard to swallow for some folks. Same-sex marriage has a long way to go (and to be fair, a lot of folks oppose it - religious right and otherwise, so it may never achieve equal status). Still, it's never gotten this far before, and it happened while the most religiious-right-friendly President we've ever had was in office.

My point (yet again): the RR folks make a lot of noise, but they never seem to get what they advocate for.

Tripp | May 23, 2006 10:02 AM

I thought the "everyone's ideas are equally valid" was a lefty fallacy.

One small point "Everyone's ideas are equally valid" is most certainly a fallacy but not a 'lefty' fallacy.

It is a strawman attribute that has been pasted onto the left by Rush the drug addict in order to discredit the left.

Another example - lefty's must tolerate everything. Or one more - liberal is a bad word.

It is very tiresome to have to point this out.

Tripp | May 23, 2006 10:11 AM

Brian,

My point (yet again): the RR folks make a lot of noise, but they never seem to get what they advocate for.

My cynical view is that if they ever got what they wanted they would no longer be useful to the Republican party which uses the RR to get elected and nothing else.

But like CoolBlue (who interestingly enough is neither Cool nor Blue) they've internalized the meme 'the Dems would be worse' so strongly they keep coming back to the Repubs like whipped kids to an abusive Daddy. I suppose this has a certain appeal to some personalities.

Brian Greenberg | May 23, 2006 11:26 AM

My cynical view is that if they ever got what they wanted they would no longer be useful to the Republican party which uses the RR to get elected and nothing else.

I agree, although I don't think the folks fighting for all these positions are disingenuous (i.e., I think they really want to see these things pass, but consistently fail).

I think the rest of the Republican party doesn't silence them because they bring along a certain voting block. And, as you point out, those folks don't seem to realize that they never get what they are obstensibly voting for.

Andrew Wade | May 23, 2006 11:49 AM

Taeyoung,

I think you're on to something. I don't think "the right" is particularly interested in rewarding virtue, but they are very much interested in punishing sin. (It's not just the religious right either; the decidedly secular Harris tories up here in Ontario were big on punishing wrongdoers). They seem to operate under the axiom that every sin must be punished. (This is a little weird, as a common interpretation of the crucifiction would have that every sin has already been punished--it's taken care of).


The contemporary religious right is concerned with justice, though perhaps not as Scalzi defines it. What may be confusing the issue is that so many of the leaders of the religious right are particularly twisted and blasted souls. But they are unlikely to be representative.


I for one am utterly unconcerned that sin might be left unpunished.[1] Whether my neighbors live "rightly" doesn't particularly concern me; more that they live well. Unfortunately, many (by no means all) in the religious right seem utterly unconcerned about the welfare of their fellow human beings.


[1] Punitive "justice" is important, but it's important for the welfare of the public.

Tripp | May 23, 2006 03:19 PM

Andrew,

I'm not sure about Canada but I know the US got the Puritans and a puritan is someone who is deathly afraid that someone somewhere is having fun.

In general a Republican man is someone who is not very successful with the ladies. That's why he is drawn to the party which offers him control over women. I can't say I really blame him much. Life really is a competition and I'd probably do the same if I was born with the short end of the stick.

The fact that Clinton could have a hot wife and get away with a little nookie on the side would have infuriated me, too, if I didn't have the same opportunities.

Chris Billett | May 23, 2006 04:04 PM

Think what you like of Time Magazine (personally? I dig the European edition...) but a few weeks ago it ran an excellent article on the religious right, which I agree with mostly. It was called My Problem with Christianism, and was pretty astute. I link 'cos I guess that, with your AOL work and all, you probably have a Time login. Who knows.

In particular, Mr Hammer meets Mr Nail on the head here:

"There are very orthodox believers who nonetheless respect the freedom and consience of others as part of their core understanding of whater being a Christian is. They have no problem living next to an atheist or a gay couple or a single mother or people whose views on... [blah blah] That doesn't threaten their faith."

! is the phrase I'm looking for. Also:

"What to do about it? The worst response, I think, would be to construct something called the religious left. Many of us who are Christians and not supportive of the religious right are not on the left either. In fact, we are opposed to any politicization of the Gospels by any party, Democratic or Republican, by partisan black churches or partisan white ones.'My kingdom is not of this world,' Jesus insisted. What part of that do we not understand?"

To be honest, John, there's tons more in the article that you might find interesting if you can get to it. It's very relevant to much that you touch on in that post, and I for on would be interested in your thoughts.

John Scalzi | May 23, 2006 04:09 PM

I saw the article. Don't have much to add on it -- it hits a lot of the themes I've hit on here over the years, although I like "Leviticans" better than "Christianists."

Chris Billett | May 23, 2006 05:11 PM

That figures, it made sense to me and most of what you say seems to as well! For fun, spot all the 'deliberate' typos I put up, oh yes...

Simon | May 23, 2006 10:23 PM

Brian:
>>you said same-sex marriage is about to be accepted.

>Where, exactly, did I say such a thing?

In your original post:

>They want a ban on gay marriage, and yet ironically, it's the Bush administration that will go down in history as presiding over the first legal gay marriages in our nation's history.

That sounds pretty "accepted" to me.

Now, you may want to quibble over the word "accepted", but, blimey, man, you're also the one who said we DON'T have a BAN on ILLEGAL immigration!

Brian Greenberg | May 24, 2006 08:51 AM

Simon:
Now, you may want to quibble over the word "accepted", but, blimey, man, you're also the one who said we DON'T have a BAN on ILLEGAL immigration!

We've had a lot of good discussion here, so I don't see the need to get bogged down in semantics. So let's compromise with lots of seemingly redundant disclaimers, shall we?

The first same-sex couple to legally marry in the US did so while George W. Bush was president. These marriages were highly controversial, and have been challenged at various levels of government. The federal government, including Bush himself, does not recognize them as full-fledged legal marriages. All of that being said, same-sex marriage has never been more "accepted" (in a legal sense, anyway) in the US than it is right now.

Much to the dismay of the (supposedly powerful) religious right.

Immigration without following proper procedure is, and has been, illegal for a very long time. Yet, these laws are violated so frequently and enforced so haphazardly, that they may as well be Speed Limit laws. Recent discussion in Congress (and by Bush himself) indicate a penchant for relaxing the law in some way, rather than enforcing it more stringently.

Again - much to the dismay of the (supposedly powerful) religious right.

There. Everybody happy? (Yeah, right...)

Simon | May 27, 2006 05:27 PM

Here's a quote for you, Brian:

"For the first time in 14 years, legal abortion in the United States is in serious jeopardy." - William Saletan, WP 3/13/06 weekly edition (and probably in the paper and on Slate too, I didn't check)

So the religious right aren't remotely getting their way, are they? Back here on this planet they are.

Brian Greenberg | May 28, 2006 03:30 AM

Ah, Simon. When are you going to stop throwing me softballs? Some other citations for you:

Abortion Rights in Jeopardy: Jan 23, 2006
Abortion Rights in Jeopardy: Oct 4, 2005
Abortion Rights in Jeopardy: Jul 1, 2005
Abortion Rights in Jeopardy: Nov 14, 2004
Abortion Rights in Jeopardy: Oct 5, 2004
Abortion Rights in Jeopardy: Feb 19, 2003
Abortion Rights in Jeopardy: Jan 22, 2001
Abortion Rights in Jeopardy: Fall, 1998
Abortion Rights in Jeopardy: Sept, 1992
Abortion Rights in Jeopardy: Oct 5, 1990

Because you see, on this planet, the fact that someone says something is about to happen, doesn't mean it is.

Brian Greenberg | May 29, 2006 12:12 AM

A disclaimer of sorts: I'm not suggesting abortion rights aren't in jeopardy. I'm suggesting that they've been in jeopardy for a very long time, but that the people who support them have long been more succesful at defending them than the people who want to see them taken away.

Sten52169 | February 21, 2007 04:00 PM

I've just been staying at home waiting for something to happen. Whatever. Not much on my mind lately. I guess it doesn't bother me.

Sten65137 | March 18, 2007 05:05 AM

I feel like an empty room, but eh. Nothing seems worth doing. I haven't gotten much done today.

Sten48242 | March 23, 2007 11:39 PM

I just don't have anything to say. Not that it matters. Eh. I've just been staying at home doing nothing, but I don't care. That's how it is.

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