October 21, 2009

"... religion is on the decline... when the time comes that religion shall be discarded..."

Spoken in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1789 — whence inaccurate predictions have flowed for more than 2 centuries.

55 comments:

Brent said...

Spoken in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1789 — when inaccurate predictions have flowed for more than 2 centuries.

Where it continues today with examples such as Sheila Jackson Lee, the proud African American Woman Democrat from Texas, speaking on the floor of the House last week about how one American should not be allowed into the National Football League because she didn't like some of the things he may or may not have said.

former law student said...

As I read Scott's remarks, he, like Gerry, would limit the militia service exemption to those who belonged to a religion with known scruples. Not open it up to the unchurched who may have individual religious scruples. Thus Scott's arguing that the decline in religion is the decline in formal church affiliation.

SteveR said...

I didn't think Hitchens was that old.

former law student said...

I don't know how Rush gets into every thread. Here he makes an ass of himself by calling Sheila Jackson Lee a liar for alluding to remarks he made about Donovan McNabb on ESPN -- the remarks that led to his resignation from the announcing crew.

At some point even the most kneejerk Dittohead must stop and think who they're supporting.

former law student said...

http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/200910140024

traditionalguy said...

That was a prescient comment.The Christian Religion in this country has been in a sharp decline among the educated since 1900. Only the Catholics , the Pentacostals, and a few Evangelicals are still holding on. The Pope just opened up a door for the surviving Episcopalian churches to re-enter the Catholic Church for the reason that the Clergy among many Episcopalians now discourage any belief that the "Faith Story" in the Apostle's Creed is a factual declaration rather than only one of the cute stories, among many stories, made up by men all over the world. The believers in Jesus and his Father are still growing and are exploding in Africa and China where men and women realize their need to strengthen themselves with a true faith in the true God.

Chase said...

the question is not Sheila Jackson Lee's right to spew - or what Rush did or didn't say.

It is that she used the House of Representatives to say it. But she never was the smart one in that brilliant body anyway.

Peter S. said...

Ann, you miss the point, I think.

This representative is not arguing that religion is on the decline. But he's suggesting that if it is on the decline -- as some suggested -- then the country has to protect itself against non-religious people pretending to be religious to dodge military service.

The real villains, in his mind, were non-churchgoers and atheists -- especially atheists pretending to have moral scruples to which only religious believers have a right!

We have a long, storied tradition of treating religion with far more respect than it deserves.

Beldar said...

I think you meant to write "whence" rather than "when," Prof. A.

Paddy O. said...

Curiously enough, just read this ten minutes ago.

Roger Williams, 1655: "There goes many a ship to sea, with many hundred souls in one ship, whose weal and woe is common, and is a true picture of a commonwealth, or a human combination or society. It hath fallen out sometimes, that both Papists and Protestants, Jews and Turks, may be embarked in one ship; upon which supposal I affirm, that all the liberty of conscience, that ever I pleaded for, turns upon these two hinges--that none of the Papists. Protestants, Jews, or Turks be forced to come to the ship's prayers or worship, nor compelled from their own particular prayers or worship, if they practice any.

"I further add, that I never denied, that notwithstanding this liberty, the commander of this ship ought to command the ship's course, yea, and also command that justice, peace, and sobriety be kept and practiced, both among the seamen and all the passengers. If any of the seamen refuse to perform their services, or passengers to pas their freight; if any refuse to help, in person or purse, towards the common charges or defence; if any refuse to obey the common laws and orders of the ship, concerning their common peace or preservation; if any shall mutiny and rise up against their commanders and officers; if any should preach or write that there ought to be no commanders or officers, because all are equal in Christ, therefore no masters nor officers, no laws or orders, nor corrections nor punishments; I say, I never denied, but in such cases, whatever is pretended, the commander or commanders may judge, resist, compel, and punish such transgressors, according to their deserts and merits."

Williams did not particularly appreciate the arguments of the Quakers to the contrary, though for the most part he was absolutely against any civil involvement in religion, and vice versa. But, when a ship is sinking...

Religion has been on the decline for a lot longer than 1789. Then it resurges again. So the warnings tend to be accurate, just not permanent.

Ann Althouse said...

@Beldar Thanks. You're right. Fixed.

@Peter S. You are right, but I am surprised to see that the prediction was seen as apt enough that it required the response. The argument had been, since there is so little religion, it won't hurt to give this exemption, and the clever answer was, it there is so little religion we need to worry that people will use this exemption to cheat. It's a neat response.

Paddy O. said...

I think Peter S. is right. As, I believe, the conscientious objector issue has encountered this exact problem.

Bissage said...

I agree that religion is in decline as I’m just about the only one left who slaughters a ram, pours libations and sprinkles frankincense to secure the favor of Zeus.

traditionalguy said...

Bissage ... FYI Zeus's alter is now housed at the Pergamum Museum in Berlin. The Germans brought it out of Pergamum, Turkey in 1904 and finished anexhibition Hall for it in 1930. It was a favorite place in the Nazi Cult ceremonies. The scriptures refer to it as the Throne of Satan.

Bender said...

The argument had been, since there is so little religion . . .

So little religion with anti-military sentiments perhaps, but in 1789, there were still plenty of state-established religions or, otherwise, certain demoninations given a legal preference in state laws, with the suppression of other religions (i.e. those Godless Papists) enshrined in law.

David said...

Bender said...

". . . .

in 1789, there were still plenty of state-established religions or, otherwise . . . ."

There were? In the states of the United States of America? I don't think this is correct.

Class, please compare the quality of this debate to the quality of the debates we presently hear in Congress. Talk about decline!

edutcher said...

former law student said...

I don't know how Rush gets into every thread. Here he makes an ass of himself by calling Sheila Jackson Lee a liar for alluding to remarks he made about Donovan McNabb on ESPN -- the remarks that led to his resignation from the announcing crew.

Maybe because he's right more often than not? What I know of Ms Lee is that she regards herself as queen (her words) and has made an ass of herself (far more than Rush) on so many occasions (Why aren't hurricanes being given African-American names; it must be racism) it defies belief.

If Rush called her a liar, chances are she lied about what Rush said about McNabb; pretty much the same way most of the Lefty media lied about Rush's views on slavery.

PS You're actually using the General Betray-Us crowd as a credible source? Next you'll be pointing to Ubermaroon as the finest reporter since Richard Harding Davis.

Robert Cook said...

Reflecting well on them but poorly on us, members of the House in 1789 had unfounded confidence in the rationality of American citizens, and assumed that in time good sense would prevail over superstition, and belief in religious tenets would be moribund.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Well Cookie, history has demonstrated that the big league genocidal maniacs of the 20th century tended to be secular atheists with a strong affinity to socialism.

Go figure.

elHombre said...

fls cited http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/200910140024 for some reason related to Limbaugh's claim that Sheila Jackson Lee lied about him.

I'm not interested enough to check, but as I recall his comments about D. McNabb, Lee distorted Limbaugh's comments sufficiently to justify his claim that she lied. The mediamatters clip seems to support that.

Disclosure: I am an infrequent Limbaugh listener.

elHombre said...

Cook wrote: [M]embers of the House in 1789 had unfounded confidence in the rationality of American citizens, and assumed that in time good sense would prevail over superstition, and belief in religious tenets would be moribund.

Undocumentable leftist revisionism hopelessly intertwined with secular progressive bigotry.

former law student said...

Jackson-Lee frames Rush's allegation of McNabb's unworthiness in harsher words, but she actually minimizes Rush's accusation of reverse racism on the part of the media:

What Rush said that led to his removal from ESPN:

"I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well,'' Limbaugh said. "There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."

Summary: The media, wanting a black quarterback to seem to be doing well, credited McNabb for the success of the team, although he had not earned it by his individual performance.

... I would ask the NFL owners to put standards in place, criteria; base it on integrity, not just the bottom buck. Anybody that wants to call a quarterback in Pennsylvania and call him out--he happens to be African American--as not being competent, just somebody that the media has promoted, not being talented--interestingly enough, that football player happens to still be playing and doing a great job...

Summary: The media promoted the African-American McNabb although he was neither talented nor competent.

But the bottom line for Jackson-Lee is that Rush's remarks spark divisiveness, making him ill-suited to own a part of our de facto national pastime -- the secular Church of the Big Screen where we come together as one every Sunday:

I don't know why in the heck, other than the big dollar, that Rush Limbaugh would be interested in the NFL. And so we're not interested in him either. And I would hope--though this is not my choice. This is not a government issue as well as it is an issue of integrity for those of us who believe that this is a great sport that brings all of us together.

Hoosier Daddy said...

"If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept." Geraldine Ferraro

Out of curiosity, did Sheila Jackson-Lee get as incensed over that?

Peter S. said...

David said: "There were [state-established religions in 1789]? In the states of the United States of America? I don't think this is correct."

It's correct. Some states continued to have established churches beyond the time of ratification. These churches were supported by taxes and enjoyed special political privileges.

Some have argued that the remaining state churches were "established" in name only, and that their eventual disestablishment simply recognized a de facto separation of church and state.

Still, the Congregational Church was not disestablished in Connecticut until 1818. Massachusetts didn't sever its ties completely until 1833.

Were there others?

Robert Cook said...

"...history has demonstrated that the big league genocidal maniacs of the 20th century tended to be secular atheists with a strong affinity to socialism."

And history has demonstrated that lynchings of black persons in America tended to be carried out by white persons.

Does this prove white persons have a predisposition to lynch blacks?

elHombre said...

fls wrote: Summary [of Jackson-Lee's comment]: The media promoted the African-American McNabb although he was neither talented nor competent.

And, of course, this does not even remotely resemble what Limbaugh said, unless "overrated" has become synonymous with "neither talented nor competent."

fls wrote: But the bottom line for Jackson-Lee is ....

I doubt anyone assumed that Jackson-Lee didn't have a "bottom line." It's hard to imagine that it would justify lying about a private citizen on the floor of the US House.

So what's your point other than blindly defending a co-ideologue?

What was that other thing you said? "At some point even the most kneejerk Dittohead must stop and think who they're supporting."

Back at ya!

elHombre said...

And history has demonstrated that lynchings of black persons in America tended to be carried out by white persons... Does this prove white persons have a predisposition to lynch blacks?

Are you really arguing that in determining "predisposition" those comparably few unlawful lynchings could be analogous to the systematic slaughter of hundreds of millions of "enemies of the state" by secular, totalitarian, left-wing governments?

Apparently, you and fls have been drinking the same Kool-Aid today.

former law student said...

And, of course, this does not even remotely resemble what Limbaugh said, unless "overrated" has become synonymous with "neither talented nor competent."

And, of course, this does not even remotely resemble what Limbaugh said, unless "overrated" has become synonymous with "undeserving."

John Lynch said...

The persistence of religion is the best argument for the existence of human nature.

former law student said...

So what's your point other than blindly defending a co-ideologue?

Remembering a racially divisive insult in harsher terms than originally uttered does not constitute lying. Likely Jackson-Lee simply misunderstood. It's hard to imagine what would justify such an unwarranted accusation of lying, made by a popular radio talker, about a United States Representative.

Instead of calling Jackson-Lee a liar, Rush could have explained, "When I accused Donovan McNabb of being a creation of media hype, I did not mean that he was not talented and competent. He is indeed talented and competent, and I never thought otherwise.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Does this prove white persons have a predisposition to lynch blacks?

Well it proved that racist whites tended to favor lynchings over say, a bullet to the back of the head. But that's irrelevant as was your poor attempt at analogy.

You simply stated that good sense good sense would prevail over superstition, and belief in religious tenets would be moribund.

This implies a secular position is favorable. All I did was point out that isn't quite the case.

miller said...

yes, it's odd how Rush is now part of every conversation.

Steven said...

David, in 1789, Connecticut and New Hampshire has established Congregational churches, while Georgia and South Carolina had established Anglican churches. Massachusetts had a system where no one denomination was established, but all men were required to belong to a church, and each church had the power to tax its members; this made the Congregationalists de facto established.

The First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion"; that was done to prohibit Federal disestablishment of state religions just as thoroughly as it prohibited any Federal establishment of religions.

Robert Cook said...

"This implies a secular position is favorable. All I did was point out that isn't quite the case."

No, you inferred meaning according to your own assumptions. I merely asserted that dispensing with superstition shows good sense or rationality, (at least, was my unstated implication, as compared with maintaining belief in superstitions); I did not state that people who show "good sense" or who are rational do not or cannot behave abominally, that a rejection of supertitious beliefs guarantees more "favorable" behavior.

The most intelligent, educated, and cultured people in the world can behave brutally.

This is because, at bottom, we act largely according to emotional impulses, even the most rational of us. This is one of the primary jobs of a parent, to inculcate in his or her children certain reflexive inhibitions against behaving in ways proscribed by society. The rational arguments against such proscribed behavior follow the emotionally reflexive inhibitions instilled in us against such behavior.

elHombre said...

Limbaugh: [McNabb] got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve

In this context, fls, "overrated" fits as well or better than "undeserved." I think you can peer through the partisan fog well enough to see that.

fls wrote: Remembering a racially divisive insult in harsher terms than originally uttered does not constitute lying.

Nonsense. She lied on the floor of Congress by claiming falsely that Libaugh said McNabb was untalented and incompetent. You haven't a clue what she "remembered," and you omitted the lie she actually spoke when you quoted her.

You are not merely "blindly defending a co-ideologue" as I suggested before, you are disingenuously doing so.

Disappointing, but not surprising.

elHombre said...

Cook wrote: [T]his is because, at bottom, we act largely according to emotional impulses, even the most rational of us. This is one of the primary jobs of a parent, ....

It is indeed enlightening to receive a lecture on moral parenting from someone who discusses the political murder of hundreds of millions by their governments and the unlawful lynching of hundreds as though they are morally equivalent.

BTW, how, exactly, does one "inculcate" in one's children a "reflexive inhibition," or, for that matter, any other reflex?

The inanity from the left here today is stultifying.

former law student said...

To show my respect for el Rushbo, I will recycle a suggestion he made recently to a CNN reporter: "elHombre, you need to go sit on a fire hydrant and improve your day"

Oligonicella said...

elHombre --

"It is indeed enlightening to receive a lecture on moral parenting from someone who discusses the political murder of hundreds of millions by their governments and the unlawful lynching of hundreds as though they are morally equivalent."

Well hell then. I don't care to be the first, but let's throw in the religious Hitler then. Happy now? Neither religion or the lack thereof makes for good government. Respect for human equality and rights does.

rocketeer67 said...

Well hell then. I don't care to be the first, but let's throw in the religious Hitler then. Happy now? Neither religion or the lack thereof makes for good government. Respect for human equality and rights does.

Churchgoer, was he? Hmm. That's an interesting...folly.

elHombre said...

Well hell then. I don't care to be the first, but let's throw in the religious Hitler then. Happy now? Neither religion or the lack thereof makes for good government. Respect for human equality and rights does.

You should feel free to be the first to throw in any other unresponsive, historically inaccurate, simplistic observations you'd care to. We're all friends here.

Scott M said...

@Robert Cook

This is because, at bottom, we act largely according to emotional impulses, even the most rational of us.

I disagree.

In your terms, at bottom, I take it to mean at the lowest regions, the primal, the base.

If that's correct, the first, lowest, most irrational reaction is not emotional. It is instinctive.

Emotional responses require, even if subconscious, cognitive processes.

Instinct is far quicker and, in a lot of cases, far more violent.

elHombre said...

To show my respect for el Rushbo ....

Oh, sorry, fls. I wasn't encouraging you to respect "el Rushbo." I was suggesting that you respect the truth by not making excuses for Sheila Jackson-Lee's lies.

Thanks for the suggestion, but my day is going capitally.

elHombre said...

[T]he first, lowest, most irrational reaction is not emotional. It is instinctive.... Instinct is far quicker and, in a lot of cases, far more violent.

Kind of like Cook's (2:10 PM) "reflexive inhibitions", but not "inculcated" or "instilled," eh? LOL.

montana urban legend said...

Immigrants tend to keep their religious traditions.

Immigration fuels religiosity, and hence, maintains the high levels of religious observance witnessed in the United States. But the longer they stay here, the less religious each generation becomes. Atheism is growing - probably faster than any other major sect. But hey - nothing like taking a shot at Congress as a way of discrediting ideas that Jefferson could have just as well espoused.

montana urban legend said...

I'm curious. In what way will all of Blimbo's defenders propose that their Great Leader will promote racial harmony?

Jason (the commenter) said...

Peter S. Ann, you miss the point, I think.

No, Althouse took the quote out of context on purpose so it would agree with the point she wanted to make.

That's awful scholarship.

There's no doubt about it because here is the original sentence:

"It has been urged that religion is on the decline; if so, the argument is more strong in my favor, for when the time comes that religion shall be discarded, the generality of persons will have recourse to these pretexts to get excused from bearing arms."

It has a different meaning from the one Althouse gave it.

It doesn't showcase inaccurate predictions, but the thoughtfulness and intelligence of the speakers. Something we don't see in the modern U. S. House of Representatives at all.

montana urban legend said...

Q. What's the difference between Rush Limbaugh and The Hindenburg?

A. One's a flaming Nazi gasbag and the other is a German dirigible.

Jason (the commenter) said...

It is kind of nice to see someone try to copy you and fail. Makes you think, "Maybe what I do isn't so easy after all."

Jason (the commenter) said...

Ann Althouse : @Peter S. You are right, but I am surprised to see that the prediction was seen as apt enough that it required the response. The argument had been, since there is so little religion, it won't hurt to give this exemption, and the clever answer was, it there is so little religion we need to worry that people will use this exemption to cheat. It's a neat response.

Then say it in your post, not here in the comments, if someone catches it. Not everyone reads these comments and you are slandering history.

elHombre said...

Pompous Montanus wrote: I'm curious. In what way will all of Blimbo's defenders propose that their Great Leader will promote racial harmony?

Arguing that even "Blimbo" ought not to be maligned by inaccurate quotes goes somewhat beyond defending him. Does that idea exceed your logical and moral parameters?

Moreover, I suspect that most of the other commenters here are clear that Limbaugh is under no obligation to accept our proposals or to promote racial harmony. And you?

Gabriel Hanna said...

I doubt that Hitler, in private, worshiped anything other than himself.

But on literally hundreds of occasions he used Christianity to justify the things he was doing. The overwhelming majority of people in Nazi Germany were Christians, regardless of what nutty beliefs high-ranking Nazis held privately.

A sample:

My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before in the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.... When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom to-day this poor people is plundered and exploited.

There are leftist Christians who talk this way. It's not mainstream Christianity, that's for sure.

montana urban legend said...

Moreover, I suspect that most of the other commenters here are clear that Limbaugh is under no obligation to accept our proposals or to promote racial harmony. And you?

Of course I am also clear on Limbaugh's lack of any obligation to promote, as well as disdain for, racial harmony as well.

Which is a good part of the reason for why he and his minions of like-minded scoundrels are becoming further marginalized by the minute.

kwood said...

I'm all for discarding religion, so long as the religions of Socialism, Progressivism and Global Climate Change are included.

elHombre said...

Gabriel wrote: But on literally hundreds of occasions [Hitler] used Christianity to justify the things he was doing. The overwhelming majority of people in Nazi Germany were Christians ....

On the other hand, there was this:

"Men who cannot divest themselves of manners of previous centuries, and scoff and sling mud at things which are holy and matters of belief to others, once and for all, do not belong in the SS." Heinrich Himmler, Hitler's Reichsf├╝hrer-SS

The Nazis were exploiters who used any means at hand to further their power including the murder of clerics and members of the Confessing Church who opposed them in Christ's name, e.g., Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@el hombre:

On the other hand, there was this...;

Himmler was ONE guy whom Hitler made fun of behind his back. In Hitler's speeches, given to the vast majority of Germans who were Christians, Hitler at least posed as a Christian.

The Nazis were exploiters who used any means at hand to further their power including the murder of clerics and members of the Confessing Church who opposed them in Christ's name, e.g., Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Yes. And the murders were carried out by Christian Germans, and the vast majority of Christian Germans did not oppose them in any way.

All I'm trying to say here is that the line between good and evil runs through every human heart. Religious people are not immune. Germany had a long history of religiously-motivated violence, such as the Thirty Years' War, pogroms against Jews, and witchcraft trials that depopulated entire towns.

Yet for some reason Christians don't think of these things as "Christian atrocities"; but Communist atrocities are used to tar non-Communist atheists. Since Communism and atheism are not synonymous--there have been lots of religious Communists in the world--this kind of double standard is really irritating.