July 13, 2007

"We meditate on the transcendental glory of the deity supreme, who is inside the heart of the earth..."

"... inside the life of the sky and inside the soul of heaven. May he stimulate and illuminate our minds. Lead us from the unreal to real, from darkness to light, and from death to immortality. May we be protected together. May we be nourished together. May we work together with great vigor. May our study be enlightening."

Beautiful Hindu prayer, spoken as the invocation in the Senate yesterday. The Hindu priest was Rajan Zed of Reno, Nevada. Unfortunately, the reason I'm reading about this -- in the Times of India (via Memeorandum) -- is because some idiots -- from the anti-abortion group Operation Save America -- interrupted him:
"Lord Jesus, forgive us father for allowing a prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination in your sight," the first protester shouted. "This is an abomination. We shall have no other gods before You."

Democratic Senator Bob Casey, who was serving as the presiding officer for the morning, immediately asked the sergeant-at-arms to restore order. But they continued to protest as they were headed out the door by the marshals, shouting, "No Lord but Jesus Christ!" and "There's only one true God!"
What a shame to insult the priest that way!

There are invocations in the Senate, and the way to handle that properly is to give representatives of different groups the chance to offer a prayer. Look how well the priest did at choosing a prayer that would enhance mutual respect among religious groups and between the religious and the irreligious.

Zed showed the best side of religion -- a prayer of manifest literary value that invokes the presence of the diety and pulls the human beings who hear it to a higher plane.

Why doesn't the invocation violate the Establishment Clause? Here is the Supreme Court case on the subject, Marsh v. Chambers:
The opening of sessions of legislative and other deliberative public bodies with prayer is deeply embedded in the history and tradition of this country. From colonial times through the founding of the Republic and ever since, the practice of legislative prayer has coexisted with the principles of disestablishment and religious freedom....

Although prayers were not offered during the Constitutional Convention, [n6] the First Congress, as one of its early items of business, adopted the policy of selecting a chaplain to open each session with prayer....

On September 25, 1789, three days after Congress authorized the appointment of paid chaplains, final agreement was reached on the language of the Bill of Rights, S.Jour., supra, at 88; H.R.Jour., supra, at 121. Clearly the men who wrote the First Amendment Religion Clauses did not view paid legislative chaplains and opening prayers as a violation of that Amendment, for the practice of opening sessions with prayer has continued without interruption ever since that early session of Congress. ...

...John Jay and John Rutledge opposed the motion to begin the first session of the Continental Congress with prayer.... [But that only demonstrates] that the subject was considered carefully and the action not taken thoughtlessly, by force of long tradition and without regard to the problems posed by a pluralistic society. Jay and Rutledge specifically grounded their objection on the fact that the delegates to the Congress "were so divided in religious sentiments . . . that [they] could not join in the same act of worship." Their objection was met by Samuel Adams, who stated that
he was no bigot, and could hear a prayer from a gentleman of piety and virtue, who was at the same time a friend to his country.
C. Adams, Familiar Letters of John Adams and his Wife, Abigail Adams, during the Revolution 37-38, reprinted in Stokes, at 449.

This interchange emphasizes that the delegates did not consider opening prayers as a proselytizing activity or as symbolically placing the government's "official seal of approval on one religious view." Rather, the Founding Fathers looked at invocations as "conduct whose . . . effect . . . harmonize[d] with the tenets of some or all religions." McGowan v. Maryland, 366 U.S. 420, 442 (1961). The Establishment Clause does not always bar a state from regulating conduct simply because it "harmonizes with religious canons." Id. at 462 (Frankfurter, J., concurring)....

In light of the unambiguous and unbroken history of more than 200 years, there can be no doubt that the practice of opening legislative sessions with prayer has become part of the fabric of our society. To invoke Divine guidance on a public body entrusted with making the laws is not, in these circumstances, an "establishment" of religion or a step toward establishment; it is simply a tolerable acknowledgment of beliefs widely held among the people of this country. As Justice Douglas observed, "[w]e are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being." Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, 313 (1952).
The Operation Save America protesters were thus not only rude and intolerant, they were demonstrating an attitude toward the invocations that, if it were accepted, would render the practice unconstititional. Government cannot elevate one religion over another. One of the primary values of the Establishment Clause is preventing divisiveness. These benighted characters would like to foment religious strife.

Operation Save America issued a statement saying the Senate chamber "was violated by a false Hindu god":
"The Senate was opened with a Hindu prayer placing the false god of Hinduism on a level playing field with the One True God, Jesus Christ," the statement said, adding, "This would never have been allowed by our Founding Fathers."
That is precisely at odds with constitutional law (and good moral sense).
The Hindu prayer was also questioned by a Christian historian who maintained that since Hindus worship multiple gods, the prayer will be completely outside the American paradigm, flying in the face of the American motto "One Nation Under God."...

"In Hindu (sic), you have not one God, but many, many, many, many, many gods," the Christian historian David Barton maintained. "And certainly that was never in the minds of those who did the Constitution, did the Declaration [of Independence] when they talked about Creator -- that's not one that fits here because we don't know which creator we're talking about within the Hindu religion."
More exactly-backwards constitutional law. The motto isn't in the Constitution, and if you want to interpret it to authorize discriminating against groups that are not monotheistic, you are asking for the motto to be declared unconstitutional, not providing the basis for discrimination you (foolishly) want.

I hope when people read this news story, in this country and around the world, especially in India, that they focus not on the three protesters, but on our traditional benign approach to religion. Sometimes we exclude religion from government activities -- and we argue about how far we must go with that exclusion -- but when we include it, we don't favor one sect over another and we certainly don't identify one religion as true and another as false.

We do declare true and false constitutional doctrine, however, and these fundamentalist Christians have a false interpretation of the Constitution... and a very bad idea of how to make the world a better place.

I don't think much of their idea of Christianity either. Since when do Christians go around yelling "No Lord but Jesus Christ!"?

More commentary on this news story:

Captain Ed: "Idiots."

The Moderate Voice: "There’s a Term for These Folks - They Are Stupid Jerks"

If I Ran the Zoo: "... assholes... jerks..."

Daily Kos: "Somehow I just don't think this is what Jesus would have had in mind."

National Review Online: "very unfortunate... not the Senate's best moment."

Looks like everyone's on the same page here.

ADDED: Here's the video:



And here's an interesting post from Reader_Iam (who frequently comments on this blog):
Perhaps these protestors fancied themselves as Jesus in the temple, scattering the money-changers desecrating a holy space. But the Senate chamber is not a temple....
Read the whole thing.

63 comments:

Doyle said...

Good work, Ann.

I'm sure if you cruised around the wingnutosphere a little bit you could find some support for the poor marginalized Christians, though.

Simon said...

It should be underlined that while I don't doubt that Doyle is correct (that if one "cruised around" the blogosphere one could find some support (or at least sympathy) for the interlopers), the vast majority of right-leaning blogs I've seen have had the same reaction as Cap'n Ed's, that these people are idiots and to be ignored. SovietBlog is without foundation in trying to tie these idiots to the GOP (or Christians) more broadly.

AllenS said...

There are different Gods to different people, but there is only one famous pop MUSIC CRITIC. Now, let's all go drink a box of wine, and yoga for a while.

Salamandyr said...

Yeah, Doyle...but why would you want to? The fact that there are idiots out there is self-evident, since we're talking about some now, there is no doubt that these particular idiots have supporters, some of who have mastered the skills necessary to post their inanities on the internet. But all you'd be doing by highlighting them is to attempt to portray them as a mainstream position, inside the group you oppose.

I'd rather highlight the actual mainstream position of the left and the right, rather than elevate straw men.

AJ Lynch said...

Ann summed it up by saying :

"Looks like everyone's on the same page here."


Well that's no fun.

Doyle said...

Okay I did cruise around and while there is a disapproving article about the Hindu invocation on Townhall there's not much else. I did not find any right wing bloggers supporting the Christian crazies.

Mike said...

"Looks like everyone's on the same page here."

Well, everyone except poor, marginalized Doyle.

Paddy O. said...

"Since when do Christians go around yelling No Lord but Jesus Christ!"

Well, that's sort of what got them in trouble with Rome. The martyrdom of Polycarp is particular stirring in this respect. Though, this particular refrain here has a good bit of Muslim influence, doesn't it?

However, it seems this setting has a lot less to do with someone like Polycarp (who didn't seek out his audience) and a lot more like Paul who spoke in Athens. He didn't storm in and yell. He had a nice chat about how the god they spoke of is the God he spoke of, only they didn't know half of the details. Much more calm this way. And really, more effective.
The Hindu prayer here seems to open the same door for a similar interesting conversation.

Something entirely ruined by quite regrettable loss of control and rudeness. Though, I would guess that even if Constitutionally true the Founding Fathers really wouldn't have had a Hindu give a prayer, but that's beside the point, and certainly not a Constitutional argument.

Roger said...

"an onion ring is just an onion ring...."

a crazy is just a crazy.

But one question arises--how would these idiots know that there would be a hindu prayer--presumabably the senate posts a list of coming attractions?

Ruth Anne Adams said...

I seek to transcend this mental agitation.

Doyle said...

My only problem with the "we're all on the same page" line is it ignores the existence of lunatic Christian fundamentalists, which, given their number and historical political involvement seems like a rather large omission.

Falwell, Family Research Council, Concerned Women of whatever... We're not all on the same page.

Nels said...

Roger, here's an article from a few days ago anticipating the event:

Hindu priest awaits date with US Senate

And one has only to read the comments at Captain's Quarters to find plenty of people sympathetic to the protestors.

The Drill SGT said...

As an Army Officer, I was exposed to a lot of official prayers. I see no great harm in them (I'm fairly agnostic). The ones I got and get (yesterday I was at an Industry meeting focused on the Army information technology business (AFCEA for those that care). Anyway, luncheon, color guard, prayer, etc. The prayer always has the same basic military flavor, delivered by a military chaplain (usually). "Let us pray for the safety of our soldiers in harms way, their families, our great nation..snip.. Amen."

I think those are harmless as are most of the ones done in the Congress. Occassionally you get some divisive ass who wants to pitch his belief system.. Like the Texas Imam who recently gave a prayer that basicly tooted Islam's horn and pointedly noted that Jews and Christians were wrong. Those we can do without in a public setting.

... Oh, Allah, guide us to the straight path, the path of those whom you have favored (e.g. Islam), not of those who have earned your wrath (e.g. Jews) or of those who have lost the way (e.g. Christians)...

() added

Theo Boehm said...

Everyone with any sense is on the same page here.

Hinduism may have many gods, but one fairly universal characteristic of Hindu sects is the understanding of Brahman, the Divine Ground, the basis of everything, the consciousness of the universe, the godhead, if you will. The goal of life, aided by religious practice, is union with Brahman and the cessation of the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. The Buddhists have a similar notion, except they speak of Nirvana. The differences between Brahman and Nirvana, whether the self or personal consciousness survives rebirth, etc., etc., are all mind-bogglingly complex theological issues. Out of all the vastness of Hindu religious traditions, suffice it to say that a swami could easily be found who could offer quite acceptable prayers to the Supreme Being that would not offend a Christian or Jew. It appears such a one was invited, and he did a lovely job.

The fact that the swami's view of a Supreme Being might resemble Spinoza on steroids is somethng of which I'm sure few of his hearers had any idea, least of all the ignoramuses trying to shout him down.

And, indeed, as Paddy says, the Hindu prayer could open the door to an interesting conversation. It would, however, have to be among those with the mind to have it. They seem to be in short supply, both in and out of the Senate chamber.

TMink said...

Ann wrote: "What a shame to insult the priest that way!"

I think it was a sin. Honestly, I agree with much of their theology, but none of their choices. That prayer was kind and lovely, and the man was hurting nobody.

The jerks were the ones hurting Christianity, not the Hindu priest. Newsflash, Congress is not supposed to establish a religion. That means that well meaning people of differing faiths should be allowed to convene the Senate. None of this is rocket science.

Who do I appologize to?

Trey

Doyle said...


I'd rather highlight the actual mainstream position of the left and the right, rather than elevate straw men.


No problem. The actual positions of the American right are plenty crazy for me. And as the CQ comments make clear, there are plenty of articulate, tech-savvy Americans who think the Hindu invocation is an example of the dreaded, creeping multiculturalism.

Those weren't straw men who had to be removed from the Senate.

dbp said...

I think Ann has established that there can be no legal limit to what kind of religion can be permitted to give invocations: All well and good. But, what is to prevent say, Satinists from giving the prayer? Note: This is just a hypothetical, I am not equating Satanism with Hinduism, especially since I don't want to get in dutch with my inlaws...

The only way to prevent Satinists from having their say (by way of invocations), is for there to be a PR cost for congressfolk who would invite such a thing. If some of our founding fathers got testy about different protestent christian sects, it should hardly be a shock that conservative christians today would be dismayed at having a (technially) heathen priest invited to give the invocation.

My whole point here is that there isn't and shouldn't be any law preventing a Hindu or any other kind of invocation, but that doesn't mean every variety of rare (to the USA)priest must be invited.

The protesters were rude and counter-productive to their own cause. I suspect that whichever Democrat invited the Hindu priest hoped for just such a reaction. They could thereby make points with the Hindu community at the same time as make points with the (much larger) anti-conservative christian types.

dbp

Cedarford said...

For now, these are irritating Christian fringers without the power to do anymore than royally irritate. Like the Phelps church creatures that try and ruin soldiers funerals.

They lack the power and money clout of the ACLU-types that can target Christians and eradicate their free religious expression in various towns, schools, and private businesses - through abusive legal intimidation.

They lack the intimidation and forced accomodations Islamoids can inflict and demand in more secular, timid, grovel to multi-culti nations. It is interesting how closely CAIR and other Islamoid groups are emulating the tactics of the ADL and ACLU. Get some very wealthy backers, and sic your lawyers and their threats of financial ruin on your political enemies...

Roost on the Moon said...

Thanks for this post, Ann. It's refreshing to see a big, reasonable patch of common ground in the comments.

One nit to pick, Paddy:

Though, this particular refrain here has a good bit of Muslim influence

It seems mostly influenced by Exodus 20:3. (You shall have no other gods before me.)

It's right there in the book. We can choose to be jerks about it or not. Lets not blame Islam when ugly American Christians act up.

Obviously there is a lot of intolerance in the Muslim world today, but I don't think it's tethered necessarily to the theology. Or, when it is, adherents needn't be fundamentalists. Robert Wright (from Bloggingheads) writes well on the subject:

"[Some blame] belligerent passages in the Koran for radical Islam's intolerance. But during the Middle Ages, when Islamic civilization was at the forefront of globalization, and co-existence with Christians and Jews made economic sense, Islamic scholars devised the requisite doctrines of tolerance. Muslims can read Scripture selectively when conditions warrant, just as many cosmopolitan Christians and Jews are profitably unaware of the jihads advocated in Deuteronomy."

Gary said...

Ann: "I don't think much of their idea of Christianity either. Since when do Christians go around yelling No Lord but Jesus Christ!"

Well, he may have used a pen as well as his mouth and maybe a little more tact, but the message and response seem the same...

"Mixed reactions to pope's call for conversion of Asia...

The pope made a 62-hour stop in New Delhi where on Nov. 6 he unveiled his long-awaited response to the April 1998 Synod for Asia. He boldly proclaimed Jesus Christ as humanity's "only savior" and called upon the church to bring Christianity to Asia during the third millennium. "There can be no true evangelization without the explicit proclamation of Jesus as Lord," the pope emphasized...

John Paul II's call for missionaries to spread Catholicism in Asia sparked sharp criticisms in Indian newspapers and a sense of crisis among Hindu religious leaders..."

Proclamation vs. dialogue.(Pope John Paul II criticized for calling for evangelization of Asia)

Who do we not want to offend these days? If only Polycarp, Ignatius, and others of their ilk had acquiesced, we'd all be getting along?

Smilin' Jack said...

Operation Save America issued a statement saying the Senate chamber "was violated by a false Hindu god":

"The Senate was opened with a Hindu prayer placing the false god of Hinduism on a level playing field with the One True God, Jesus Christ," the statement said, adding, "This would never have been allowed by our Founding Fathers."

That is precisely at odds with constitutional law


He wasn't interpreting the Constitution, he was expressing the opinion that the FFs would have disapproved of convening the Senate with a Hindu prayer. I think he's probably right about that.

Sometimes we exclude religion from government activities...but when we include it, we don't favor one sect over another and we certainly don't identify one religion as true and another as false.

Really? Try claiming a tax exemption as a minister of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The constant reference to a singular God in everything from the Constitution to the coinage can only be seen as monotheistic bigotry by all those, from atheists to Hindus, who believe in a different number of gods. So to foster religious ecumenism I suggest that in all government documents the word "God" be replaced by "God and/or gods, if there be any." I think that would send an important mesage about America to the world.

AlphaLiberal said...

doyle said:
"I'm sure if you cruised around the wingnutosphere a little bit you could find some support for the poor marginalized Christians, though."

The typical practice, when attacking the left of the `sphere, is to pick out wacky comments from comment threads and then attribute them to the whole of scoeity.

I won't do that, and hope others won't, but I do think these people represent a wider swath of the Christian family than people are letting on here.

rcocean said...

A little off-topic, but I want to say a bad word about Captain Ed.

As a conservative, I HATE Captain Ed.

Not only is he long-winded and incredibly superficial but he's not really conservative. He's smug, self-rightous, and uninteresting. He's the David Broder of the conservative blogesphere.

Which is why Althouse, and a lot of other liberals like him so much. He's so... 'Reasonable'.

The man NEVER misses a chance to join the MSM and criticize conservatives for being "rude" or "nasty" or "exteme".
He comments on coulter were typical.

And when asked to name the 5 worst Americans in history he named: Nixon, Hoover (Edgar that is), and Joe McCarthy. Some conservative, eh?

Sorry, for the rant. But I really hate Captain Ed.

Paddy O. said...

It seems mostly influenced by Exodus 20:3. (You shall have no other gods before me.)

It's right there in the book. We can choose to be jerks about it or not. Lets not blame Islam when ugly American Christians act up.


"You shall have no other gods before me" is quite different sounding than "There is no Lord but Jesus Christ. And certainly no one is blaming Islam. It's a very common tactic to take statements and adapt them to Christian usage. "Jesus is Lord" itself is thought of as a direct contrast to "Caesar is Lord".

I was noting the similarity to Islamic fundamentalism and how it seems this phrase was so reflective of something different than common Christian phrasing. I've been in churches my whole life and haven't hear this particular phrasing.

I certainly wasn't being a jerk or blaming Islam. I've studied way too much church history to think there has to be some outside blame. Influence is different than blame, and it's curious if such protesters are picking up cues from the language of others.

Paddy O. said...

I won't do that, and hope others won't, but I do think these people represent a wider swath of the Christian family than people are letting on here.

This is quite true, and they are going to be applauded by many no doubt. But I think it's an error to say this represents a wider swath of the particular Christian family. This represents a wide swath of Americans in general. I daresay interrupting and trying to shout down invited speakers is not limited to Christian fundamentalists.

Passion for just about any particular cause, philosophy or religion can make people rude and act unseemly. Examples abound.

Cedarford said...

The road of "inclusiveness" "cherishing our differences" and "tolerating all other beliefs as true to those wonderful dissenters"......

Eventually leads to a priest of the Church of Satan slitting the throat of a goat and half a dozen chickens - over a specially cursed fire of Yew - on the Senate Floor.

With Senators nodding at the inclusiveness of their allowing the fire sacrifice and incantations to the Powers of Darkness.....and while quick to say they are not followers of Satan, respect the diversity such minions of the Devil bring to their constituencies...

Theo Boehm said...

It wouldn't be the worst thing to remember that St. Francis went to see the Sultan with the idea of converting him. Everyone expected St. Francis to be martyred, especially St. Francis, but he took it as his duty to proclaim the Word.

The Sultan and St. Francis ended up having a conversation, and both apparantly came away the wiser, although neither budged from his religious convictions.

Just a little something to think about on a hot Friday the 13th.

Simon said...

rcocean said...
"And when asked to name the 5 worst Americans in history he named: Nixon, Hoover (Edgar that is), and Joe McCarthy. Some conservative, eh?"

I hate to break it to you, but thinking Nixon, Hoover and Joe McCarthy are among the worst Americans in history doesn't say much about whether someone is a conservative or not. Is there a serious argument that those three shouldn't be on the list? I don't know if they're in the top five, necessarily, but they're certainly on the list.

Roost on the Moon said...

I certainly wasn't being a jerk or blaming Islam.-Paddy

I meant to call the Operation Save America people jerks, not you.

"No Lord but Jesus Christ!" does have a novel yell-it-just-before-you-detonate punchiness to it, but the sentiment is nothing new, and not borrowed from radical Islam. So, point taken about the specific phrasing, but I have been told by Christian strangers that I'm going to hell more times than I can count on my hands.

AbsPrf said...

I am sorry but I have to disagree with Miss Althouse on this one. Generally, my two favorite bloggers are Atlas Shrugs and Althouse.

I do believe that the US is a christian nation and that allowing a hindu priest, who believes in many gods, is approrpiate to speak in the peoples senate.

And yes, there are many that disagree with this and we are not "extreme righties" or whatever other nasty comments you refer to us by.

We just happen to believe in one God and that God is Jesus Christ. The country was founded on these principles and I was offended by the senate bringing this priest into its chambers.

Like NRO said it was not a good day for the senate. I don't think it was helpful for other christians to scream at him but I think the fault really lies with the democrat senate who invited this man.

cardeblu said...

As a Christian, I would have no problem whatsoever saying in my heart "In Christ's name I pray" at the end of that invocation. What he says describes God in part, and he basically prays for many of the things we're supposed to pray for.

I think it's the fact that it was an actual Hindu priest leading the invocation that I can say the above without hesitation. For some reason, if it were done by, say, a female Episcopalian priest, then I might be somewhat offended at the sappy, new age feel of it. Not so much with him...

Joe said...

The real irony is that Jesus commanded us not to pray in public "like the hypocrites."

(And for those who argue that Jesus was merely saying that you can pray in public as long as you aren't pretentious, the very next verse, Matthew 6:6 makes it abundantly clear: "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen."

The fact is, public Christian prayer is un-Christian!)

Paddy O. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paddy O. said...

I meant to call the Operation Save America people jerks, not you.

Oh! I think we agree then.

Plus, I am a Christian (a conservative one at that) and I've been told I'm a heretic and whatnot by Christian strangers as well.

That's why I'm a huge supporter of religious freedom. Christians can be as much, if not more, a threat to other Christians as to other religions. That's why the fine Baptist Roger Williams was one of the earliest supporters of religious freedom.

They don't just stop if you agree with them on the Jesus stuff. They want more and more agreement on everything and that gets tiresome real quickly.

Which is why in situations like this it's so often not as much to do with religion as power. People want power and they use their ideology as a club to get it. Sadly, Christianity has been often terribly distorted by such people.

Anthony said...

But one question arises--how would these idiots know that there would be a hindu prayer--presumabably the senate posts a list of coming attractions?

That's why I don't understand why this has caused such a ruckus; it was obviously a planned demonstration. Media reports make it seem like a spontaneous outpouring of maniacal, intolerant Christians. Which, I suppose, is what is intended by the coverage it's getting.

But, what is to prevent say, Satinists from giving the prayer?

Why, it would cause an absolute SCANDAL at the National Cotton Council of America!

Justin said...

Ann Althouse said...

Government cannot elevate one religion over another.

Here's your mistake. The type of people represented by this situation believe that the govenment can and should elevate one religion (Christianity) above another (all others). They also believe it is completely constitutional. The establishment clause uses the word "religion", which they interpret to mean a denomination of the Christian religion. They say that was the original intent of the founders. It's a complete different mindset. This is not a secular nation. There is no separation of church and state. There is only the liberal assault on Christians and Christian values.

This is what David Barton believes and teaches in his speaking engagements. I've heard it many, many times, from David Barton himself and others. It is preached from pulpits and taught in youth camps. I don't know how prevalent it is around the country, but in West Texas, it's gospel.

John Stodder said...

Not to sound too Doyle-ish here, but...

It's actually irrelevant to consider whether conservative bloggers support this particular outburst of idiocy. Of course they don't. Rudeness is rudeness.

But the "no Lord but Jesus" mentality, in which all morality is presumed to reside only in certain Christian traditions, has had a stranglehold on the Republican Party's approach to public policy since the mid-1970s, to the detriment of the country.

There is a natural majority in this country for a tough stance against jihad, a free-market approach to economic issues, moderate libertarianism when it comes to social issues, and a commitment to social equality (as opposed to economic egalitarianism). But voters are constantly frustrated in their attempts to form a government based on this natural majority, in large part because the Republican Party believes it can't win without the censorious preachers.

To me, it's about as meaningful that conservative bloggers condemn this rude outburst as it would be if Brezhnev had criticized a crazy zealot who shouted "Stalin forever" at a May Day parade. It signifies very close to nothing.

reader_iam said...

I guess I'm the only one who thinks there shouldn't be official invocations opening official sessions of the Senate (or Congress), or government-paid chaplains (except in the military or similar situations) for that matter, embedded tradition nothwithstanding.

(I know Zed was a guest chaplain; my point is more general.)

Roost on the Moon said...

I don't think it was helpful for other christians to scream at him but...

It was quite a bit worse than not helpful. There is a violent international Islamist/Anti-American terror movement, and they're looking for recruits. We have preemptively invaded and occupied a mostly Muslim country. It is very much in all of our interests not to appear to be an intolerant fundamentalist Christian nation. When Americans are shouting "No God but Jesus!" on the senate floor, what's an angry young Iraqi going to think about that? Stuff like this is part of the "war on terror", too.

Justin said...

Roost on the Moon said...

There is a violent international Islamist/Anti-American terror movement, and they're looking for recruits. We have preemptively invaded and occupied a mostly Muslim country. It is very much in all of our interests not to appear to be an intolerant fundamentalist Christian nation.

This is a very good point. The problem is, the terrorists aren't the only ones who see this a holy war between Christians and Muslims. Many Christians (mostly the hard-right evangelicals) do too. And they're unlikely to be persuaded that they're making things worse. They would actually prefer that Iraq be a Christian nation. Along with all other nations, of course.

AbsPrf said...

I have to say I don't think there is nothing wrong with hoping other nations would become christian nations. That is why many christians go into foreign lands (like China) to preach the word of the lord.

The goal of this is to spread the word of the Lord and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The intent is one of genuine interest in reaching out to others to enlighten them. It is not one of hate or fear but one of love and joy.

Many of these missionaries risk their lives going into foreign lands for this purpose and that is an admirable quality.

Cedarford said...

Simon - I hate to break it to you, but thinking Nixon, Hoover and Joe McCarthy are among the worst Americans in history doesn't say much about whether someone is a conservative or not. Is there a serious argument that those three shouldn't be on the list? I don't know if they're in the top five, necessarily, but they're certainly on the list.

You reflect more on an era and mindset you occupied - the 60s and 70s - when the largely Jewish and Leftist media and intelligensia was determined to wreak "payback" on the 3 "top demons" of the anti-communist movement for "persecuting Soviet sypathizers and operatives". Who - given the commies were 100% Left and the majority Jewish - were unsurprisingly the uncles, fathers, neighborhood friends, college chums, and mother-in-laws of the academics and media people that hated and targeted the reputations of Hoover, Nixon, and McCarthy with a passion.

While of course giving McCarthy acolyte Saint Bobby a pass for all the mean things he did to the commies around Saint Martin. Even Roy Cohn, who was the welcome darling of Manhattan cocktail and gay celebrity set, was seen as a "wayward kin" who was just cleverly playing Tailgunner Joe for career advancement...

More objective histories now emerging on Nixon and Hoover show they were mostly moderate men who were mostly right, and their estimation is rising. Even McCarthy - coarse and lowbrow as he was, appears to be as guilty as a gunfighter that got into a huge reckless gunfight and shot a bar up - killing 14 bad guys and one innocent bystander in the process.
(You take away his gun, say "No more of that!", and slap him on the back for a well-done needed bit of dirty work.)

The 3 on the list? Well, for starters, you replace Hoover with Al Capone and Nixon with the Traitor Alger Hiss and the Rosenberg Spy Ring. And replace the gunslinger with the man who did not aggressively confront the murderous enemies of America but stood by weakly as they made him their bitch in Iran, Afghanistan, the ME - Jimmy Carter.

And save a place alongside Jimmy for Dubya.

Gary said...

"Conservatives" might do well to stay on the good side of Hindus. Hindus might be more "conservative " than the whole of Christianity.

What Hindus Believe.

• Contemporary Issues
Abortion is considered an abomination, as the fetus deserves protection. Views on homosexuality range from neutral to strong opposition, in part because sexual activity itself is generally regarded as contrary to enlightenment and, as such, is only acceptable within marriage for procreation. Divorce and remarriage is traditionally and culturally unacceptable, although not prohibited by the scriptures. Divorce and remarriage of widows is becoming more common, however, among Hindus.

Doyle said...

Generally, my two favorite bloggers are Atlas Shrugs and Althouse.

Booyah! That's what I'm talking about. From the mouths of babes (or "absprf" which I hope to Sweet Baby Jesus doesn't refer to any kind of professor).

Put this up on the banner for a week and I'll never write a mean thing about you again, or will at least stop accusing you of false advertising.

John Stodder said...

I have to say I don't think there is nothing wrong with hoping other nations would become christian nations.

If you substituted the word "people" for "nations," I wouldn't have a problem with what you hope for. If someone can effectively, non-coercively, preach the Good News and win converts, more power to them.

But why "nations?" A nation implies a government, and government implies coercion. Coercion is no way to win anyone's heart, unless you think the Stockholm Syndrome is a good model for governance.

Coercion is exactly what the jihadis intend to use if they are allowed to take over a "nation." Like Iraq. Religious conversion at the point of a sword.

Revenant said...

"Conservatives" might do well to stay on the good side of Hindus. Hindus might be more "conservative " than the whole of Christianity.

"Conservative" is a relative position, not an absolute one. It can't be given a value without considering WHAT is being conserved. Fundamentalist Christians are conservative where Christian values are concerned. From a whole-world perspective they are progressives -- they want to change the world.

Revenant said...

Since when do Christians go around yelling No Lord but Jesus Christ!"

Since 325 AD? The guy obviously acted like a jackass, but that is hardly a *new* phenomenon for devout Christians.

Besides, theologically speaking he had a point -- Hindus, from a Christian perspective, worship false gods. They don't share the common Judeo-Christian-Islamic deity. I can see why invoking false gods on the Senate floor would make a devout Christian cranky.

The beauty of the poem is not really relevant, since pretty words can hide ugly truths. The Christian truth is that Hindu priests lead people away from God and towards idolatry and possible diabolism.

Consider this prayer:

"We meditate on the glory of the one who guides us, who teaches us to throw off the shackles of of oppression, to embrace freedom and self-government, and to seek enlightenment in him."

Pretty words -- but very different meaning depending on whether the words were said by Billy Graham or Anton LaVey.

TMink said...

John Stodder wrote: "But the "no Lord but Jesus" mentality, in which all morality is presumed to reside only in certain Christian traditions, has had a stranglehold on the Republican Party's approach to public policy since the mid-1970s, to the detriment of the country."

In my view, the "No Lord but Jesus" is about salvation, not morality. Jesus said "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but through Me." So for many conservative Christians (some of whom are Democrats!) the phrase refers to Jesus as the only Savior.

Now I sure do not see the Republicans taking any heed of Christian morality. I believe that we are co-travelers on a few things, but Republicans crave power and want businesses to be left alone. Conservatives have a different, and overlapping agenda as well. Conservative Christians, I think, want to greatly reduce or ban abortion, return morality, if not prayer to the puiblic school system, and to be able to elect people of our faith to sit in Congress, in the courts, and in the Oval Office. And we want to be left alone by the ACLU!

Trey

amy said...

why do people think the Founders would be really upset about a Hindu prayer opening Congress? John Adams signed and our Senate unanimously ratified the Treaty of Tripoli, which boldly proclaims "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion"

Official records show that after President John Adams sent the treaty to the Senate for ratification in May of 1797, the entire treaty was read aloud on the Senate floor, including the famous words in Article 11, and copies were printed for every Senator. A committee considered the treaty and recommended ratification, and the treaty was ratified by a unanimous vote of all 23 Senators. The treaty was reprinted in full in three newspapers, two in Philadelphia and one in New York City. There is no record of any public outcry or complaint in subsequent editions of the papers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Tripoli

From the wiki.

rcocean said...

Simon,

I think anyone names names Hoover as the all-time worst American, and throws in Nixon and Joe McCarthy in the top 5, is missing some basic onservative values. BTW, John Wilkes Booth and Bedford Forest were the other 2 in the top 5.

Most conservatives think traitors like the Rosenbergs and Alger Hiss were somewhat worse Americans then misguided - but partriotic - men like Hoover and Nixon. Hoover and Nixon made mistakes but at least they were trying expose traitors & not help them.

As for McCarthy, bad as he was, I can think of several men who did more damage than "tailgunner Joe". LBJ and George Wallace come to mind.

But I guess Captain Ed was simply following his usual pattern of criticizing Conservatives/Republicans first.

Justin said...

AbsPrf said...

Generally, my two favorite bloggers are Atlas Shrugs and Althouse.

Doyle replied...

Booyah! That's what I'm talking about.

Um. I don't think that means what you think it means.

TMink said...

rcocean wrote: "As for McCarthy, bad as he was, I can think of several men who did more damage than "tailgunner Joe"."

Now that we have confirmation from Russia that Joe was often accurate, has anyone got data on what percentage of the time he was right in his accusations?

Trey

reader_iam said...

Thanks, Ann.

hdhouse said...

You don't have to troll around the blogosphere to find a not on the same page nitwit when we have Cedarford's comments.

Trey is right (he usually is). Who do we apologize too?

Ann Althouse said...

Obviously, my "all on the same page" remark refers to commentators at a fairly high level of prestige. Of course, there's always some idiot saying something idiotic. I saw left-to-right denouncement of these characters. If you have a contrary example, give us a URL and it better be to something with traffic over 4000 a day.

TMink said...

Justin wrote: "Many Christians (mostly the hard-right evangelicals) do too. And they're unlikely to be persuaded that they're making things worse. They would actually prefer that Iraq be a Christian nation. Along with all other nations, of course."

As a kinda right-wing Evangelical Christian I take umbrage at your statement and have alerted our large underground network about your infidelity. You are an enemny of God, and so deserve to be . . .

Well, that got kinda creepy, I better stop. 8)

I do think that we are in a holy war. Not one that we started mind you, but how does that opinion of mine make things worse? I tend to conceive of things spiritually, as well as psychologically, but I am not sure how using those lenses is a bad thing.

I would indeed prefer that the world be Christian! Now I am not so naive as to believe that it would happen, but what is the problem with that preference?

The belief encourages me to give a little money to Samaratin's Purse, and I pray for Christians to act in loving, kind ways that are a good witness to our Lord, but I am not sure that any behaviors that come out of my beliefs are more than a little annoying.

I will try to be open to your thoughts, as I do not want to confirm your judgment that I am unlikely to be persuaded by your ideas. But I am honestly curious about the point.

Trey

Justin said...

TMink said...

I do think that we are in a holy war. Not one that we started mind you, but how does that opinion of mine make things worse?

It's not personal opinion that is making things worse. It's when people frame the debate in terms of Christian vs. Muslim. It sends the wrong message.

The terrorists believe that this is a holy war between two religions, but it's not. It's theocracy vs. secularism. It's tyranny vs. freedom. It's religious oppression vs. pluralism.

This war will be won or lost by moderate muslims around the world. If they believe that the Christians are on a crusade to conquer Islam, they will not help us. Worse, they may even help the terrorists. However, if we can convince them that we're are not fighting Islam, that we're fighting for freedom of religion, then maybe, just maybe, we can gain their support.

What makes things worse is Musilms hearing Americans talking about a holy war. They hear it in the mosques and in Osama Bin Laden's video tapes. When they hear it from us, it's confirmed. So what side do they choose: the Great Satan or Allah's warriors?

I would indeed prefer that the world be Christian! Now I am not so naive as to believe that it would happen, but what is the problem with that preference?

The difference between you and the people I'm talking about is that you're not calling for the power of the state to making this happen.

I will try to be open to your thoughts, as I do not want to confirm your judgment that I am unlikely to be persuaded by your ideas. But I am honestly curious about the point.

I wasn't talking about you or people like you. What you've said in this thread alone shows me that you're not in the group I was talking about. I'm talking about the kind of people who disrupt a harmless prayer because it conflicts with their religious beliefs. The people who are intolerant of other religions and proud of it. The people who want the US to go on a Christian crusade against Islam. These people are doing more harm than good, in many ways.

TMink said...

Thanks Justin, I see your point. I am not deluded in thinking that America is a Christian nation, and not interested in establishing a Christian state, and the people you are talking about are.

It is interesting to me that I do share considerable theology with those people, but since I see no political activity or interest in Jesus, I consider my political interests a hobby rather than a mission.

You wrote: "The terrorists believe that this is a holy war between two religions, but it's not. It's theocracy vs. secularism. It's tyranny vs. freedom. It's religious oppression vs. pluralism."

I certainly do see it as a holy war between two religions, again, not one that I started or am directly participating in. But it is also everything that you add. And I support pluralism while holding tightly to my faith. God gave me free will and the ability to choose, it would be foolish to not know that He extends that gift to everyone else too.

I am convinced that living a Christian life has more to do with how I treat my neighbors, the people I come in contact with, and the people who attack me then it does my government. And given my government, that is a good thing!

I have thought about what really defames the U.S. Government, and it is certainly not a Hindu prayer. It is the people who sell their votes, the people who seek power above good government, the people who use their office to fill their pockets instead of fulfill their promises. That is truly disgusting to us and God.

Trey

Nataraj said...

I'm a bit late to this party, but our elected officials do, quite routinely, discriminate between religions. Case in point, G W Bush in 1999: http://www.circlesanctuary.org/liberty/report/barrwars.htm

Revenant said...

When they hear it from us, it's confirmed. So what side do they choose: the Great Satan or Allah's warriors?

I would suggest that a Muslim who actually gives consideration to the notion that Al Qaeda are "Allah's warriors" and America is "the Great Satan" is in no way deserving of the label "moderate".

Would you call a person a "moderate Christian" if he was torn between murdering all of the non-Christians in the world and living with them in peace? Because in my view a Christian who even *considers* forcibly ridding the world of all non-Christians is so far out in extremist-ville that Pat Robertson looks like some kind of hippie peacenik by comparison.

Galvanized said...

It seems right that, with respect to all people, an acknowledgment of God in government should be general. As I strongly believe, Jesus did not make Himself available in politics and (as I frequently say) said to "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's." I think that these words were a direct suggestion to keep religion out of politics/government. Why? It's because it negates the wills and rights of others, and tolerance in one's faith of others' beliefs is the best witness of one's faith. Shouldn't it be so that, in a democracy, if the majority believes in God, that it is then acceptable to acknowledge Him; but, in showing respect, not cram the majority's idea of what is God down the minorities' throats (Hindu, atheist, Muslim, etc.)? Religious diversity in a democratic government? -- seems it would go with the majority and be kept to a generality and a minimum to respect all faiths. But, again, I believe that Jesus wanted faith kept out of politics, with officials instead going with a greater good -- which is practicing their faith less from their platform (leave that to pastors) and more in using their influence in their offices conscientiously and reflecting their spiritual values in their conduct and in making the world better for everyone. Sorry that's so poorly articulated. But I have to admit that, as a Christian, there are days that I feel conflicted about these things and wonder if I feel rightly about it.

Michael said...

Ilchi Lee has a fantastic reputation due to what he teaches and how he uses his mind. Ilchi Lee was driven at youth to ask deep inner questions about his existence, which is a question that we all bring up sometimes. Ilchi Lee is also a master of Teak Kwon Do and spent 21 days alone meditating. Meditate is to reflect deeply on a subject. Meditate to think to intently and at length as for spiritual purposes. This is similar to what many of us do. How many times have you been sitting around bored, just staring into nothing. You are meditating. Ilchi Lee also traveled across the USA and stumbled across a city to start teaching his ideas. This wonderful and beautiful city was Sedona, Arizona. Finally, Ilchi Lee

Book of Joshua: Isaac went out to meditate in the field.
Hebrew word; talk to himself. To devise, imagine.
Greek word; what people do to make sure they can teach

-SRV

Michael said...

Ilchi Lee has a fantastic reputation due to what he teaches and how he uses his mind. Ilchi Lee was driven at youth to ask deep inner questions about his existence, which is a question that we all bring up sometimes. Ilchi Lee is also a master of Teak Kwon Do and spent 21 days alone meditating. Meditate is to reflect deeply on a subject. Meditate to think to intently and at length as for spiritual purposes. This is similar to what many of us do. How many times have you been sitting around bored, just staring into nothing. You are meditating. Ilchi Lee also traveled across the USA and stumbled across a city to start teaching his ideas. This wonderful and beautiful city was Sedona, Arizona. Finally, Ilchi Lee

Book of Joshua: Isaac went out to meditate in the field.
Hebrew word; talk to himself. To devise, imagine.
Greek word; what people do to make sure they can teach

-SRV