September 3, 2006

Religion and politics.

A Pew poll:
The Pew poll found that 69% of respondents said liberals have gone "too far to keep religion out of school and government" and 49% contended that conservatives have gone "too far in imposing their religious values."...

Large majorities of Republicans (87%), independents (65%) and Democrats (60%) denounced efforts by liberals to minimize religious influence in the public square, including 70% of conservative and moderate Democrats. Just 38% of liberal Democrats expressed this view....

[W]hen asked which should have more influence over the nation's law — the Bible or the will of the people, even when it is in conflict with the book — 63% of Americans said the people's will should hold sway, compared with 32% who thought the Bible was superior....

Slightly more than half (52%) said Bush mentions his religious faith the right amount and 14% said he talks about his faith too little. Almost a quarter (24%) believed the president mentions his faith too often.
People are delightfully moderate. It must drive the politicos and fundamentalists nuts.


Wickedpinto said...

Kinda like your post about china deleting history, it is too extreme.

The way left wants to delete religion, not tolerate it, but delete it.

However, the way right, is trying to do what castro does, which is make religion a focus, a near exclusive focus in aspects of education and politics. (atheism being the faith of communism)

So I agree with your closing. Whee Yay Whee America, we are beautifuly moderate.

sparky said...

Moderate? It's a bit unnerving that 32% of the respondents seem to think the USA should be a theocracy. Perhaps we have more in common with Iran than we realize....

Pogo said...

Democrats push an agenda that is actively intolerant to religion. They misread the Bill of Rights to demand that wherever the government has any role, however small, religion must be expelled. The phrase "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of Religion," they take that to mean "freedom from religion". And they ignore the second clause, "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." And in rejecting religion in the schools, for example, in its place, it prefers either atheism or a PC secular humanism (both religions in their own right).

I think the problem for Republicans is that they missed the mark. They needed, in the 1990s, to make clear to the religious that they differ from the above description of Democrats, and offered a safe haven. But then they kept at it, alienating even the religious, because they seemed to be appealing to a certain brand of Christianity exclusively.

If only they would take the time to read Russell Kirk's excellent essay, Politics and Religion, in his 1997 book, Rights and Duties. In it he states that it was expediency, not anti-religious principle, that led Congress to accept and the states to ratify the First Amendment. He wrote that the first clause "declared that the national government must tolerate all religious beliefs - short of such fanatic beliefs as might undo the civic social order; and that no particular church may be endowed by Congress with privileges of collecting tithes, and the like."

As to your post, he suggests, "Christian teaching, like Jewish teaching, is intended to govern the soul, not to govern the state." But the State cannot exist, he argues, without religion, for a "lack of religious foundation has been the ruin of other democracies."

Or as de Tocqueville phrased it,
"While the law permits Americans to do what they please, religion prevents them from conceiving, and forbids them to commit, what is rash or unjust." To delimit or expel religion comes at great cost, and is opposite to the intent (and words) of the Bill of Rights.

Scott W. Somerville said...

I've been pondering terms like "theocratic fascism" lately (it seems to be a hot topic in some quarters). When I consider what the so-called "Rethuglicans" are really asking for in the US, the more it looks like Britain, not Iran. As far as I can tell, the "religious right" would be content with something far less intrusive than England's established church, and the neo-cons would be happy with something along the lines of Britain's Official Secrets Act.

The Brits have always been the most extreme example of moderation...

A Menken Moment said...

Sparky, how do you conclude that 32% of Americans want a theocracy? While there is a mention of "imposition," the poll stated that some Americans wanted religion to have a superior influence than it presently has over lawmaking, not necessarily a supreme determination.
Given how fickle and elastic the "will" of the people is, the influence of a book that insists that abiding moral values exist is not a priori a bad thing. America is hardly teetering on the edge of theocracy today, as a look at both popular culture and the state of the law will speedily reveal.

Your statement seems rather alarmist. Could it have been inspired by that same atheistic zealotry that regards any public expression of a belief in God as a fascistic atavism?

Pogo said...

Re: "Moderate? It's a bit unnerving that 32% of the respondents seem to think the USA should be a theocracy."

Sparky, you deliberately misread the quote. 32% thought the Bible was superior to the people's will when it is in conflict with the Bible, and therefore it "should have more influence over the nation's law". It's a broad and messy question, and cannot be contrued to mean they desire a theocracy.

However, Muslims certainly believe in a theocracy, and are intent on instituting such in England, across the EU, Canada, and even the US. But at least here they remain but a small minority (while England is whithering before their demands, even as they vigorously fight terrorism). There is no evidence that there exists any similar belief favoring the actual establishment of a theocracy among traditional Christian denominations. Your concern is not however unwarranted, but it is misdirected.

sparky said...

Sorry, but I disagree. Unless you have access to more precise data, I'll go with the language here, which says that 32% of the people responding agreed that the Bible "should have more influence over the nation's law" than the will of the people. That state of affairs is a theocracy.

Yes, I am a bit concerned about it. A third of the population is a non-trivial number. And we're not talking about displaying the ten commandments in a courhouse, but rather what rules run the country. I think that's a legitimate concern.

And the Muslim comment seems a bit far-fetched. (A similar statement directed at another religion would no doubt have that group up in arms.) Please provide some evidence for the assertion that Muslims as a religious or social group prefer a theocracy.

Pogo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pogo said...

Re: If you still summarize that quote as "That state of affairs is a theocracy." then you cannot be swayed. But you are quite wrong.

Re: "Please provide some evidence for the assertion that Muslims as a religious or social group prefer a theocracy."
Now you're just being deliberately obtuse. What do you think islamofascist terrorism is about?

AJ Lynch said...

I agree with you Ann. Our pols rarely mention polls like this when arguing their far left or wingnut positions.

dick said...

My only complaint is that they seem to conflate the far right and the fundamentalist religious right as being the same people. There are a lot of people who are far right or just right who are not religious at all or who are not even Christian at all. There is a difference between the fundamentalist Christian right and the right and this reporter seems like many on the left of not getting that. I am fairly far right in most things and I am not religious at all. Does that make me a fundamentalist "rethuglican"?

I would like to see many of the values of the Ten Commandments as a part of the law but not necessarily all of them. I think most of them are pretty good values regardless of your religious inclination.

I do think that the left goes way too far in their trying to purge all religion out of life. The Constitution speaks of freedom of religion which I interpret to mean that you can practice your religion without the state interfering in it. The other interpretations that I see being bandied about to me are just ludicrous.

sparky said...

Well, I had a longer post prepared as a response to the one you apparently deleted, so I shall let that pass, except to say two things: first, please show me a fact--not an assertion from a neo-con or a GOP supporter--that demonstrates that Muslims as a group seek a theocracy. That was your original assertion, not mine. All I'm asking is that you provide some factual basis for it.

Second, it's none of my affair, but you might want to be a bit more cautious in your postings. This revised posting now seems to suggest that all Muslims are "islamofascists" because the way you juxtaposed my words against your comment suggests there's no distinction among Muslims. (I'm assuming you didn't mean to say that.) "Islamofascism" is, admittedly, a catchy term, but I have no idea what it means. FYI, I believe that the GOP has already dropped it as a slogan because it had too many problems. I don't know what the replacement catchphrase is; maybe Redstate has it.

Finally, I was unclear in my last posting. I meant that if it came about that Biblical rules trumped civil law in the US, as a third of the respondents apparently preferred, then that would make the US a theocracy. The US is not a theocracy, at least not yet. Sorry for the confusion.

sparky said...

It doesn't make you a fundamentalist. But the GOP, for power purposes, has woven the strands together in a way that is difficult to untangle, I think.

Law is a mishmash of morals, ethics, aspirations, and political power. It certainly does have some moral content to it. The problem is that most religions want to impose their specific system on everyone. Murder is bad is a universal so there's no issue there. Who may, and when should they, pull the plug on Ms. Schaivo is a question that different ethical systems answer differently.

So I have a question: would you rather live in a country where the specific doctrines of some organized religions--but not others--were part of the governing rules, or would you rather live in a country where nobody's religious rules were a part of the state? Assume it's not your religion's rules that would be included.

Robert Fovell said...

sparky said,"please show me a fact... that demonstrates that Muslims as a group seek a theocracy.

As phrased, the task is not possible, but IMHO your query is improperly formed. It should suffice to demonstrate that there exists an energetic cadre of Muslims dedicated to theocracy -- as opposed to "Muslims as a group" -- and this cadre undeniably exists. The mass of Muslims, as with many groups, are followers: amenable to being led, cajoled, commanded. Particularly in a social structure that demands conformity, it doesn't take many to have a profound effect.

I'm halfway through "The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11" by Lawrence Wright. Strongly recommended.

dick said...


My problem with your question is that for much of the time when the religious rules of all are excluded from the laws, then the laws tend to be dictatorial. We have had many examples of that in the last century. There can be a middle ground when those rules that are common to all religions are included but you still have the question of how to interpret the similarities.

Having values from a religion does not make it a theocracy. A theocracy is very different from that. A theocracy inplies that you will either be a faithful member of that religion or you will be a slave to the faithful of that religion or close to that. Whatever the leaders of that faith think becomes the law of the land.

When you think of it having a dictator is having a theocracy. Look at Mao or Stalin or Lenin or Saddam or the leader of North Korea or Castro. Your leader is a cult figure and essentially a religious leader. That is a theocracy.

Pushing for your beliefs to be accepted is no different from what goes on now. The religious fundamentalists are trying to get their ideas to be the law of the land and the LLL dems are trying to do the same. You are trying to call it imposing a religion on the country but that is what you are trying to do as well. Your religion is just called atheism and has its own view of whether man is essentially good or man is essentially sinful.You can sit there and pontificate that your way is the right way and the democratic way but the religious fundamentalists can make the same claim if they get enough votes.

Pogo said...

Re: "...not an assertion from a neo-con or a GOP supporter..."

Hizb ut-Tahrir: " For members of the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir, the battle to openly convince Muslims in Germany of the benefits of a worldwide Islamic state will be brought to court before the end of the year."

Ahmadinejad: "The older people present here surely remember that one of our slogans during the revolution was: We will convert the entire world to Islam with out logic. We are confident that the Islamic logic, culture, and discourse can prove their superiority in all fields over all schools of thought and theories."

Rushdie: "There is a tendency to look at the jihadist movement as a monolith globally. The only really global idea they have is this laughable fantasy of "the return of the Caliphate."

Irshad Manji: "Clearly, I’m as impure a feminist as I am a Muslim. The difference is, offended feminists won’t threaten to kill me. The same can’t be said for many of my fellow Muslims. What part of "no compulsion" don't they understand?"

Yassin Musharbash, in Spiegel:: "al-Qaida's strategy for the next two decades. It is both frightening and absurd, a lunatic plan conceived by fanatics who live in their own world, but who continually manage to break into the real world with their brutal acts of violence.
Terrorism here cannot be ignored -- but it seems these attacks simply supplement the larger aim of setting up an Islamic caliphate."

C.S. Monitor: "Muslims should abolish national boundaries within the Islamic world and return to a single Islamic state, known as "the Caliphate," that would stretch from Indonesia to Morocco and contain more than 1.5 billion people. "

Panama News: "Political Islam took a turn in initiating another round, and the events of 9/11 marked the beginning of a deliberately planned round of assaults. The only difference this time around is that rather than a "Muslim Caliphate" state to carry out the assault, "Global Islamism" took that job. As mentioned earlier, "Global Islamism" is a comprehensive concept, and terrorism --- planned or unplanned --- represents the aggressive wing of this wide-ranging scheme. In the days of the Muslim Caliphate, there was a central state in charge of the military aspects of political Islam, and nowadays, in the absence of that state, terrorism has taken on the military role (of course, the concept of Global Islamism extends far beyond mere terrorism)."

BBC: The London bombings have prompted the UK government to outlaw Hizb ut Tahrir - a radical Islamic group that wants to replace secular governments with an Islamic Caliphate, or super-state run according to Sharia Law.
"All Muslims in the world already want to live in a Caliphate, under Sharia law," he says. "It will be a huge state, a very powerful state. Even now you are all afraid of us - America, Israel, you in the UK too."

sparky said...

Thank you for your responses. I don't expect anyone to agree with what I am going to put here, but perhaps you will at least consider my observations. Have a nice rest of the weekend.

I think the best way to respond to the points raised here is to take Mr. Fovell’s point first: “It should suffice to demonstrate that there exists an energetic cadre of Muslims dedicated to theocracy -- as opposed to "Muslims as a group" -- and this cadre undeniably exists.”

I have a hard time with the first part of this statement. Why is it sufficient? And for what? And when did “some” become “all” or even “most”? Look, I agree that there are some Muslim fanatics who are hell-bent on a particular form of political-religious domination. But how many? And what part of it is devoted to what are really political goals in the Middle East versus some attempt to take over the world?

In other words, I agree that a threat exists. But what flows from that is less clear, and I think some of the conclusions people are drawing will lead to more problems. I think there are several distinct problems here. First, there is a small, hard to define group of fanatics. Second, this group has somehow been inflated far beyond their true numbers. Finally, I think we are making a grave mistake by carelessly tarring a billion people with one brush. That approach isn’t going to win any moderate Muslims over. So, at the end, I mean this: there is a threat, a small, but very real threat, of extreme violence. But it’s vital to distinguish between that threat and the bogeymen that are churned up in this country.

PS: I haven’t read the Looming Tower, but it is supposedly quite good. Thanks for reminding me.

Can’t agree with your dictatorship assessment. Some dictators had what they thought was a theory, or an ideology, or were just crazy. But it is seriously inaccurate to call an authoritarian state a theocracy. Iran is a theocratic state; the Soviet Union was not. North Korea might be a theocratic state; I frankly don’t know enough about it to know.

Also, for a person who objects to being labeled, one would think you would perhaps hesitate before labeling me. Especially when I have not stated my religious beliefs.

As to your last point, I agree with you: it’s all about the votes. We could abolish the Constitution and substitute the Bible, if enough people wanted to do so.

Pogo: Thanks for the links. As I hoped I made clear above, of course there are some Muslims who want to establish a theocracy. But, again, some is not all, or even most. And so far as I can see, none of those links suggest that some is most or all. If anything, they suggest that most Muslims think the global idea is nutty.

Here's an example of what I mean about not making some mean all. Take a look at what Katherine Harris, for example, said just this week about God and government. Now, you might say well that’s a silly example because most people don’t agree with her, and it would be silly to assume that all Christians want a theocracy based on what that particular Christian says. Well, why can’t we extend the same consideration to Muslims?

By the way, the CS Monitor article discusses a political organization that seeks to establish Muslim rule through political means; it is NOT an armed movement. I'm not sure what's wrong with that; it's what people do in this country all the time.

John in Nashville said...

A plurality agrees that conservatives have gone "too far in imposing their religious values." That is encouraging.

Perhaps more believers are coming to realize that God is not such a weenie that He needs Caesar's (nor Pat Robertson's or Ralph Reed's)help.

dick said...

If you don't think the Soviet Union was a theocratic state, then just imagine trying to set up an opposition party there with different beliefs. You would be in a gulag in a NY Minute. Try it is Cuba today. They have people in jail for just trying to get a book that is in opposition to the regime. Whenever the leader Castro gives a speech, the people are herded out to hear him and they had better clap at the right times. Same with Mao and with Kim in North Korea. Saddam had statues of himself all over the place. How is that any different from a theocracy? Remember Mao and his Little Red Book? Remember Saddam and his publishing of his thoughts and that had to be taught in school? You are just trying to make the definition of a religion too narrow. Atheism is a religion because because of its belief system in there being no God. If you believe in a God then you are a non-believer. Check the comments of atheists in the blogs and you will se the way they treat non-believers in atheism.

Look at the Soviets and the entombment of Lenin and Stalin. They even had visitors file past to look at the enbalmed bodies. Check out the religion according to Che. Books and photos and flags of him all over the place and he was a murdering psychopath but they even made a movie of him that was sympathetic to the creep.

hdhouse said...

dick, oh where to begin...why is everything so black and white to you? all communists seem to be the same to you...its some encompassing "ism"..some sort of size 12 that because it is big enough, nearly everyone can wear it.

I ask you and others "what if theocracy wins out here"...simple up or down..suddenly you are either allowable or intolerable based on what? tithing? dunking in some stream? being able to recite the various bible stories in king james english? some one defining a judeo-christian ethic made up on the fly?

what if our courts adopted various commandments and scripture as that wacko in alabama just about did a few years ago? that would sure be a double whammy...if you were an atheist you could be tried under common law and under the majority biblical that would be just ducky.

the issue is how did this grow to the numbers it has..the percentages that think its not only "ok" but that now sizeable minority that would like to see it happen.

my theory is that in the constant battle and the hellion call of "persecuted christians", we in the center and other side have sought to be tolerant..."meet ya' half way" kinda people and there is no half way. you take a step toward the center and they don't budge so you cut the distance in half and they don't budge but suddenly you find yourself giving ground with no compromise. thus embolded, these folk sense a weakness and entrench further.

then along comes a bush type who can't be elected without their total support and he panders, bows and scrapes, gives the like of pat robertson "face time" and discusses the upcoming Iraq war with him...then rush limbaugh gets a half hour here and a half hour there, james dobson tells the president and effectively the country what and who he will tolerate on the court...and on and on...

now its legitimate. now the cat's out of the bag and we now have discussions that smack of compromises to placate the bible thumpers.

ouch. have we learned nothing about what happens when the this kinda stuff happens?

dick said...

And conversely we have Rev Al Sharpton, Rev Jesse Jackson, etc and they are just fine because they are not rightists. Amazing how such a difference in politics makes religion acceptable. Why you can even preach a sermon in a church if you are a democrat and get away with it and no problem. How about being a priest and a congressman (Father Drinan?).

Then you also have the other lovely dem ministers (Fred Phelps, anyone??). He's a real beaut!!

Jim said...

We could stop worrying about whether the gummint should inject or oppose whatever religion or nonreligion if we just went ahead and got the gummint the hell out of education and rehabilitation and the like.

The libertarian would like to see the gummint confine itself to defense of our borders. Trouble is, that's the one thing it can't seem to pull off!

hdhouse said...

ahhh dick...there you go again.

major difference is that rev al and jesse don't play the religion card as much as they play the human rights card. but your point is noticed but not taken. how do you know that i accept jessie and al's politics? how do you know that?...we know bush cowtows to robertson, dobson, falwell et al because he actively goes out and seeks them out, delivers to them, and kisses their big fat white behinds to get the votes and the money. these superchristians seek to run the direction of the party and the country by means of direct pressure, in your face, ralph reed (ohhhhh there is a beauty) type activisim...and the problem is that there are a lot of them and they mobilize with the stemcell, abortion on demand, pornography drivil that we get an earfull full of every few years.

sharpton and jackson speak to the party but don't speak for it. fallwell, et al, speak for it and their party speaks to them. major difference.

dick said...


It is not some communist thing. It is some dictator thing where the dictator is worshipped with the statues and the enbalmed bodies for people to walk past and the guards to check that everybody is dressed right. You want to make it a theocracy here but it isn't.

You seem to believe that if someone dares to put a cross out that everyone who passes by will be forced to bow down and worship. That is far more likely with the dictators you seem to favor. You are the one who wants the government to control everything. You claim that you want freedom but then you want more taxes so that you can bind more people to the government.

You believe that the first amendment is freedom from religion when it is freedom to practice or not practice religion. Is it so frightening to you that your child may hear that someone believes there is a God? Do you think that will make their heads roll around and force you to call in an exorcist to free the child from the cult? The child is more like to become part of a cult of political persuasion with you beliefs than he is of a religious persuasion.

You don't seem able to differentiate the concept of the standards of religion when it comes to behavior becoming a part of a rule of law. Better that than the standards of no belief system at all.

hdhouse said...

why would you condone, permit, allow or otherwise ignore the state's sanction, tacit or otherwise, of a push into the most private personal and important decision a human can make...that of his faith. that would be the last to fall, not the first.

i have no issues with your religion being worn on your sleeve. you can put a great big cross in the center of your forehead with a hotglue gun as far as i am concerned.

where i draw the line is when authority, either in school, in local government or in the courts - or for that matter in any place that derives its funding an support from all of us, when someone representing or working for those institutions says:

"wow, joe! you there with the big cross hot glued to your look at joe! he's right. You all need to be like joe because if you aren't i'll think less of you and in some way that will hold you may be subtle (i might not call on you, or i might ignore your questions every once in a while, frown your way...whatever) or it may be overt...people like joe, sit over hear...the REST of you, i don't care where you sit,...but if it is at all, then its a no go.

Pogo said...


There is a far distance between tolerance to religion and freedom from religion. You seem to prefer an end of the spectrum differing from the majority of Americans, as the poll points out. I think you are quite wrong about this, and dangerously so.

A state that actively roots out any and all refernce to religion "in school, in local government or in the courts - or for that matter in any place that derives its funding an support from all of us" -is there any remaining place that can claim such isolation, hd? I cannot think of one- will face decline as surely as have all others which have so attempted.

As it is, the expulsion of religion from the public square has meant that by default the state prefers atheism or secular humanism as the acceptable religions by which moral thought is permitted to be conveyed.

And I find that repellant, and anti-Constitutional.

Menlo Bob said...

Pogo, you need a blog of your own. If you can't say it in a small paragraph you have nothing worth remembering. Oh, and by the say Republicans have blown it, they why does the Pew Poll show the opposite?

John in Nashville said...


George Orwell, 1984

Secular Humanism=Religion

Pogo, 11:13 post, September 3, 2006

Yeah, right.

hdhouse said...

I've always had a good laugh at the chuckleheads who trot out secular humanism as a religion. Dying to ask if sacred humanism is the opposite.

What is wrong with religion neutral? we don't either support or decry. particularly, what is so shaky, so insecure, so phobic about your brand of religion that it needs public support? why is that? and why should your brand be more important than my brand that you can enlist the state to further it, to promote it, to put it, even if silently, first?

don't you get it? that would make you special in the eyes of the public property - we all contribute but for some reason you get in line first.

i know that is the GOP way of things and most certainly the self annointed religious right feels a little bolder in this era of religious wars and mock crusades, but i'm not ready nor will i ever be ready to loan you my neutral place in line or, more importantly, any of my rights of citizenship.

if you want to live in a theocracy, move to the vatican or joint a cult on some farm somewhere. i hear the shakers might make a revival if they can just get a government grant.

tjl said...

"if you want to live in a theocracy, move to the vatican."

How about Saudi Arabia?

Pogo said...

Re: "...If you can't say it in a small paragraph you have nothing worth remembering."

Sorry, Menlo Bob, next time I'll use smaller words, type very slowly, and, you know, keep it short.

And I would have my own blog, if i had anything worth saying, much less worth remembering.

As for my comment on Republicans, the poll stated, 49% contended that conservatives have gone "too far in imposing their religious values." I don't find that laudatory ...sorry... good.

Pogo said...

Re: "chuckleheads who trot out secular humanism as a religion"

You make the mistake of thinking that religion requires belief in a deity.

In the 1930s, John Dewey founded the American Humanist Association in order to sweep away the superstitions of traditional religion. In his book, "A Common Faith"(1934 p. 58), Dewey wrote about humanism * as a religion:, "Here are all the elements for a religious faith that shall not be confined to sect, class, or race. Such a faith has always been implicitly the common faith of mankind. It remains to make it explicit and militant."

Most religions have, indeed, been theistic, but not all. Religion signifies a system of doctrine, an organization, an approved pattern of behavior and form of worship. In the secular religion of humanism, the ideas that the validity of moral choice is only to be decided by the individual, and that self-actualization is the goal of every human are its dogma.

I agree it is an unconventional position to hold, but just google the terms some time. The topic generates discussions far from chuckleheaded.

hdhouse said...

I really don't have to google "secular humanism" and as a Teachers College Alumni, Dewey is someone with whom I have a passing acquaintence.

and chuckleheads is the right term for those who buy into the notion that "secular humanism is a religion".

If you read the Humanist Manifests I & II and not try and quote out of context, you find two things -

1. Dewey was just one of many who signed the manifesto (which by the way describes RELIGIOUS HUMANISM") and the American Humanist Association wasn't founded until 1941 and if you try guilt by association, please try looking up the membership past and present - you might, just might recognize some of the names.

2. Secular Humanism is really two terms. Humanism, which has been around in one form or another since Locke or for that matter Newton and others, is or should be to you well know. Secular humanism is the flip side of the coin to Dewey et al's religious humanism and more prominently has been used by chuckleheads in a collective attack at and on everything in society that offends them.

its the old "since God is perfect everything that isn't perfect is ungodly so it must be secular and since we are humans and self reliant (tsk tsk) its gotta be their fault.

If you want to talk Dewey and his philosophy bring it on. However, his writings are well known, well dissected and debated, and not at all what you would like us to believe.

Last, there used to be excellent ph.d. research courses on the ferreting out of primary sources. watermarks were important, ink types and paper types, musty old library stacks, repository basements...all kinds of stuff so you had some idea what was source and what was cut and paste or badly copied.

you seem to be an Internet Baby so that the top dozen topics that flash up in a search have got to be true otherwise.... and that is just plain too bad. You really need to read things on the net with a skeptic's eye rather than embracing Google Search as your believability meter.


Pogo said...


Are you actually disputing that Dewey wrote the words I quoted?

As for "internet baby", no, I suspect I am probably around your age (though apparently your profile must remain supersecret). And I have written a few scientific papers in my time, so I am aware of the issue you raise, an important one, to be sure.

But this is the internets, so I used the tubes to find a web source for the quote I have in hard copy. The source I provided came from a listserv from the U of South Carolina: "DEWEY-L is a forum devoted to interpreting and extending John Dewey's philosophy in light of relevant issues in any area of inquiry."
(discussion list manager Associate Professor Tom Burke)

Your factual dispute about that quote is with them, I guess. Do you have a better web source that refutes the quote or shows it to be in error? Does the Department of Philosophy at University of South Carolina have a bunch of chuckleheads in it?

But in large part you have failed to address why your definition of religion (that religion demands a deity) should prevail, except in a snarky way, but without sources, either web-based or in print.

hdhouse said...

i've often thought that those pesky ol' gamecocks attended a high school with ashtrays as the old saying goes but i digress.

if you examine your snipet carefully:

"Here are all the elements for a religious faith that shall not be confined to sect, class, or race. Such a faith has always been implicitly the common faith of mankind. It remains to make it explicit and militant."

what does dewey say here:

1. that religious humanism (not secular humanism) is not sect, class or race dependent.

2. the tenets are part of the basic core of mankind

3. it is not (it remains to) explicit and it is not militant.

The 15 or so descriptors of religious humanism go a long way to softening the clash between observation and dogma, measureable and superstition. much of the conflicts (darwin v. "god is a trickster" for example) fly out of our inability to resolve. dewey and his cohorts gave it a pretty good swipe.

to put dewey up as a militant is however, absurd..the original straw dog. but then, the religious right always needs a target, real or otherwise, and that is the issue in this thread if you can see it. it is when religious zeal is empowered by political clout that we get in trouble..when this thread and debate (of sorts) morphs into a knock on the door...a kristelnacht of thought to force transformation that we must studiously avoid.

Sarah D. said...

Usually, when people say they want "religion" in the public schools, they mean the Christian religion.
As a Jew, I find neutrality in schools -- recognizing that Americans have the freedom to participate in any religion or none at all -- to be entirely compatible with my faith.
There was an interesting article about a class in religion in California. The class covered world religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, and others. Such a class in world religions is entirely consistent with the First Amendment and would undoubtedly be useful. However, 28% found the neutrality about religion -- discussing the different religions as if they were equally valid -- to be contrary to their religion. The study found that the class did not lead people to change their religions.

Theo Boehm said...

Whoa! Here we go again. Put up a post titled "Religion and Politics," and out come all the old, well-rehearsed arguments, complete with traditional ad hominem attacks, spirited yet tenacious defense, and classic poses of sweet reasonableness. Kind of an Internet Kabuki theater or Baroque opera, only more boring. Does get the ol' Site Meter spinning, though, doesn't it?

I have a more engaging approach to these sorts of "discussions."

Why don't we take a cue from my 12-year-old and try playing a Yu-Gi-Oh-like virtual card game?

Everyone could buy one of several standard card decks online. Each card would show a figure appropriate to a number of stylized arguments. Players could acquire cards featuring characters such as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Thomas Dewey, John Marshall, James Madison, Thorstein Veblen, Cotton Mather, Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Winston Churchill, Bob Dylan, et al, et al. Every card would be categorized and have a number of different attack and defense points. Players would have the option of buying or trading to acquire more cards.

In play, participants would take turns drawing cards appropriate to the argument at hand. They must take care to draw the right card at the right time lest they be beaten by a card with more powerful attributes drawn by an opponent. ("Ha! My Thomas Jefferson Magical Secularist defends against your John Adams Christian Moralist Monster!" "Yeah, but my Ralph Reed Dark Wizard Electioneer card still gives me more life points!" "True enough. But look at the my Jefferson Magical defenses. I get three life points!" "I've only got a Tom DeLay Troll Monster card left, and it's been banned, so I can't use it for anything! Damn!")

The beauty of this is that it would be much more interesting and fun than the typical debate here, interspersed as it is between the cute animals/people/scenery/restaurants pictures and the boomer pop-culture bits.

I'm off to finish the design of the Karl Rove Dark Magician card and see about opening my online gamers' shop. I, too, deserve to cash in on all this traffic.

hdhouse said...

yes theo, this topic certainly does bring out the loonies doesn't it. you might want to double up on that medicine for a while.

as your moniker appears to be a flute (open holed no doubt) and perchance a boehm flute circa 1880 thinking hence the name, let's pied piper this a bit shall we? (and baroque opera actually isn't boring at all - well perhaps to some but all art has a following and set of critics...guess that's what makes art huh).

i'm just infatuated with those who plop down into the village of the illiterate, play some hot little tune of "above the fray" uberknowledge, and expect both the rats and the village children to to follow them.

either you don't face the intrusion of religion into politics in your life or, as they say in river city, "you got trouble". whatever your situation, your thinly guised attack on Sarah D. was both pointless and frankly, pretty darn silly.

If it is an ad hominem, and who cares if it is cited or not, the points made in her observation are on target with the Dewey discussions above and the core issues of the thread...the core one being that there is a certain percentage of this society, classroom or not, who cannot even step up to the neutral debate without being bent out of shape. It is my opinion (ad hominem of course silly goose) that those who decry the neutral position as some sort of resergent know nothings of the 1850s who worship at the altar of humanism, are not likely to be lead out of town by any snake charmer, no matter how alluring his tune.

If you want to play Dungeons and Dragons rather than practice the flute, so be it. Just don't play the "silly-tune" to this villager k?

Pogo said...

hdhouse said: " seem to be an Internet Baby..."
Thanks for the more composed and less snarky response. Let's just say we disagree about how to interpret Dewey's words. At best we'll come to an "is not/is so" stalemate, whatever sources we each may cite.

Moreover, you bypassed my main point: that Dewey himself wrote "here are all the elements for a religious faith", that is, he considered humanism a religious faith. But I shan't convince you.

And despite your intial puzzling accusation that my "snipet" was evidence of falsity (and that I "really need to read things on the net with a skeptic's eye"), I am confident you found my cite accurate enough.

And you also said: "...resergent know nothings of the 1850s ..."
I couldn't agree more. Good call on that one.

Theo Boehm said...

hdhouse: I’m not sure exactly what you’re saying, but I take it you’re accusing me of mocking this thread and displaying an “above the fray” attitude.
If you reduce the charge to “beside the fray,” I’ll be happy to plead out.

Guilty as charged, yer honner.

No disrespect intended toward any of the participants, but isn’t this topic a little, uh, “frayed?” Some of the arguments about religion and politics in our Western world have been around since Jesus, and they certainly have been around in something like their modern form since the 16th century. How much more can anyone add, particularly if they’re arguing from authority? Like the Boston ladies and their hats, we have our positions, thank you. And I don’t think anyone is going to sell us a new one.

The news of Americans’ current views on this subject is, in fact, mildly interesting. Rehearsing the same old arguments about religion and politics isn’t.

Most political positions in the modern world might be reduced to a numbered list or a set of releases like software. We could save a lot of time and trouble by simply saying, “My take on that is 27.1.2.” “But what about 27.2.3?” you might say and have a perfectly good point.

I was trying to lend a little interest by proposing a way of making the outcome of online political debates a bit more unpredictable. It seems to me a Japanese card game is as good as anything.

Just because a topic is hot button and gets a lot of traffic doesn’t necessarily make it worthwhile. It may be, however, very worthwhile to the blog proprietor in ad revenue. That’s just the inner cynic talking, so pay no attention.

As for Baroque opera, I like it as well as the next person. Hell, I even played in a couple of them. But, if done in an “authentic” manner, most modern audiences would find the acting stylized in the extreme and the plots tedious and unbelievable. This was even commented on at the time. Read Addison’s hilarious send-ups of Rinaldo or Marcello’s Teatro a la moda.

Hmm…”stylized,” “tedious,” “unbelievable.” That wouldn’t have anything to do with the blogosphere, would it?

hdhouse said...

i doubt that the google adsense stuff here amounts to a hill of beans.

actually i was amazed that someone would trot out Dewey and the religion doesn't need a diety gar-bage that we debated right after the universe in the atom conjecture...i think about 4 martinis in..ohhh to the days when people drank martinis without the howard johnson flavors..

i was more irked by the telephone game distortion of facts exhibited by a few here..they heard it so its true (but not verbatim) which seems so silly, blog or not.

it is a shame that baroque opera and the blogs never collided. they seem so much alike..particularly in the stylization and off course predictability. ABA form (watch the lawyers scramble for that reference) never moved an opera plot forward and i fear these chuckleheaded neo-cons, so afraid, so redundant and ultimately so short of facts, have picked up that artform.

tjl said...

It's actually Hdhouse who makes use of the ABA form -- his thought doesn't develop, it merely repeats. But unlike a good baroque singer, H's florid ornaments can't disguise the lack of new thematic material.

hdhouse said... the home of the houston grand opera no less...

do you have something to contribute? no?

thought not. or think not.

lawyer? snoooooooooooooooooooze