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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Religion and Politics: Engaging the Beast Versus Becoming the Beast

Imagine what we'd talk about if you invited us all to dinner....

Pastor Steve Hickey joins the fray on the question of pastors endorsing political candidates from the pulpit. Pastor Hickey is an interesting case: he'll be spending lots of time endorsing himself for District 9 State House. I have no problem with his taking the hustings at Tea Parties and candidate fora to say, "Vote for me!" (well, no problem aside from the fact that voting for him would drive us into a Dark Ages of theocracy). I would have a problem if I heard he was issuing self-endorsements from the pulpit.

Both Pastor Hickey and Dr. Ken Blanchard have made some good points about the need for churches to engage in politics. Indeed, in my favorite definition of the word, politics is the art of living together in community. Churches are all about that. Love thy neighbor is a political statement: it keeps the polis from degenerating into Russian mafia anarcho-capitalism. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave political sermons exhorting all of us to make our community more just.

But there seems to be a line between advocating for justice and advocating for a specific candidate to lead us to justice. Christian churches face a challenge of being in the world but not of the world. Churches must challenge Caesar without picking or becoming Caesar.

The issue of the constitutionality of political endorsements from the pulpit is perhaps less important to resolving the issue than the question of the proper role of the church. Declaring any person more worthy than another doesn't seem a proper use of the pulpit. When we drag our sorry butts before the preacher on Sunday morning, we are all sinners, preachers and politicians, too. To hold up any man but Jesus for praise on Sunday morning might be Constitutional, but it doesn't feel Scriptural.

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p.s.: Pastor Hickey reports that the candidate who got this muckball rolling, Gordon Howie, is saying that his raising of this issue has raised his profile and boosted his campaign. Horsehockey. Howie would say that if his T-RV ran over a bunch of nuns. Gordon Howie is not crusading for justice. He's trying to co-opt pastors and pulpits to support his campaign. Howie is a crass opportunist trying to stir up headlines for a campaign that has failed to gain traction against the Daugaard machine.

pp.s.: Mr. Price also joins the fray... and shows Shad Olson isn't smart enough for the fight.

ppp.s.: "some guy" doesn't raise his profile with Pastor Shel... but Pastor Shel does rip into my characterization of tax-exempt status as a subsidy and discuss the useful role of church in society.

45 comments:

  1. Cory - a point of clarification. I hope for no theocracy. You might have me confused with the proponents of Islam, you know... zero religious tolerance, kill the apostates, honor killings, oppressed women, etc.

    I'm fully sold on our Constitutional Republic where your ideas and my ideas are both valued. I'm actually quite serious about that and have written before how God has used heretical or radical movements within Christendom to bring things back to center and in balance (such as radical feminist theology brought the counter balance to the male headship extremes so that the majority today see women as co-equals and co-partners in God's work). I believe the same applies to the political right and left.

    What I am against is the left trying to silence the right, rewrite history so kids today have no idea this nation was founded as a Judea-Christian nation. That's a contribution to the world we all should be proud of - it's produced the most generous and free nation on earth - influencing all the other nations. With over a hundred Christian nations worldwide, they are all the free nations. Take away Christianity and freedom goes too.

    We know what happens when people with my worldview run the government - they get on their knees and ask for Divine guidance, seek to live according to Divine law, acknowledge the hand of Providence in the affairs of men, and they all look back later and marvel at what they call the miracle of the Constitution or the miracle of Philadelphia.

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  2. Phil Germann5/18/2010 8:41 AM

    Neither scripture nor tradition can be the definitive guide for voters. There are too many complexities and subjective interpretations. Should I vote Republican because they supposedly support "life," or should I vote Democratic because they supposedly support "social justice?" Which is the greater intrinsic evil -- allowing abortion or allowing torture and unjust war?

    The only requirement for voters is to insure a vote according to a "well-formed conscience." ("Well-formed" is the operative phrase.) I recommend this document (http://www.usccb.org/faithfulcitizenship/FCStatement.pdf) from the USCCB. Priests and pastors can help form consciences, but they should not endorse specific candidates. To do so presumes the kind of haughty influence over people that was anathema to Jesus, and ignores the realities of our participation by proxy in the immoral actions of our government.

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  3. The 'left' isn't rewriting history on the foundation of this nation. I think you need to reread the constitution. Christian Nationalism starts where?

    I think our founding fathers would be HORRIFIED at the state of our nation currently. I've been a second class tax paying citizen in this nation all of my life. Why? Because of that 'book' you believe in. Taxation WITHOUT representation.

    There are millions of people in this nation not living as equal citizens because of your 'faith' in a book written by men thousands of years ago who crapped in holes in the desert. Now how retarded is that?

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  4. Steve-

    With regards to the nation being founded as a "Judea-Christian" nation, how do you interpret the 1797 treaty of Tripoli?

    Please refer to article 11:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fe/TreatyofTripoli.gif

    The treaty of Tripoli was an agreement between the US right after we became a country (while we were still defining ourselves) and a number of Barbary coast countries to eliminate privateer. The Barbary coast countries were a bunch nations that were primarily Muslim dominated.

    In our treaty, the US clarified that it does not endorse any religion (article 11). This treaty was ratified by the senate and signed by President John Adams.

    To me, this is clear evidence that our founders meant for the US to be a country not founded or controlled by any religion.

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  5. Yes, Phil, Scripture can be the definitive guide for voters. Virtually every public policy is either moral or immoral, and the Bible contains more than enough moral instruction to answer just about every issue this or any other nation faces. The only problem or dilemma that arises is when we want to think of ourselves as morally upright...even as we want immoral policies.

    You present a false dichotomy between the parties (though there definitely are poor choices in both major parties) with talk of "torture and unjust war." That is pure liberal blather; I hope you don't really believe that nonsense because the Iraq war was completely justified, and waterboarding is NOT torture (just ask a Navy SEAL).

    Surely you are also not saying that, if one candidate clearly advocates immoral policies and another candidate advocates moral policies, a pastor should not ensure that his flock knows which is which. Do you really want pastors to stand idly and dumbly by while their congregation ignorantly votes for someone who will oppose their most cherished values? Surely not!

    Claiming that it is illegitimate for pastors to make a statement for or against a candidate who presents a clear picture for or against Biblical values is like saying it is illegitimate for a financial advisor to recommend for or against particular investments. That would be ludicrious, I'm sure you'd agree.

    The best place to obtain a "well-informed conscience" is the Bible, and if you know a pastor who believes in that document and knows it well, he can help you cultivate that well-informed conscience.

    But if we find immoral public policy more attractive, if we thing corrupt politicians in Washington and corrupt management on Wall Street is a good thing, then by all means, silence the moral voices of society and quash our cultural conscience.

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  6. Tony, here's some insight on the Treaty of Tripoli you may find very interesting (like liberals usually do, it's been misrepresented to manufacture a history more pleasant to them): http://www.dakotavoice.com/2008/10/confusion-at-southdacola-over-treaty-of-tripoli/

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  7. Bob, so to clarify your position, it's the people that founded the country that happen to be Christian. And those Christians chose to form a government that is secular.

    The Treaty of Tripoli illustrate that at that time, the country's founders agreed that public policy would not reflect any particular religious view.

    If that is your position, we're in agreement.

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  8. Phil Germann5/18/2010 3:51 PM

    Hi Bob,

    What makes you think I was talking about Iraq and water boarding? A clear moral distinction exists between *justifying* a war, and a *just war*. Our leaders have justified wars for many reasons; few of them have been just. But since you brought it up, can you name me a serious Christian who asks "What Would Jesus Do" and answers with "water board him!?" You're splitting legal hairs in your argument, not moral ones. The ends never justify the means.

    Of course the clergy can help form our consciences. Indeed, if our houses of faith do not present ideals, then who can we trust to do so? However, there is a difference between instructing congregants to "uphold the dignity of life from conception to natural death," and saying, "vote for this person because they call themselves pro-life." How many "pro-life" candidates will stand to uphold the human dignity of illegal immigrants (Deut 10:17-19)? The poor (James 2:14-16)? This Jesus and his followers sure sound like socialists in my bible (Acts 2:45, 4:34, Matt 19:16-28). Scripture is just so pesky when it doesn't fit the party line....

    You offer a phrase that's interesting: "...most cherished values." Which ones are most cherished? There must be an objective criteria, not just individual or pastoral interpretation of the inspired writings of a particular sect. Truth is not relative.

    This is the mystery I love so much. How could a church claim any shred of integrity if it endorses a candidate who advocates for things so blatantly anti-Christian? This isn't a liberal vs. conservative statement, and that's the point. Both sides are hypocrites, and we are all guilty by association. Pastors can't make a specific endorsement without compromising their creed.

    The only reliable guide for our participation (and bulwark against despair and cynicism) is a well-formed conscience, in concert with prudence. We may not agree with *some* stands of all the candidates, but we use our reason to do what we think is right according to our conscience.

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  9. Phil, what makes me think you were talking about Iraq and waterboarding? Because liberals have been carrying on about waterboarding "torture" (instead of the torture our enemies perpetrate using drills, machetes, electric wires, beheadings, etc) for the last seven years.

    You ask whether Jesus would waterboard, so let me ask you this? Can you picture Jesus shooting an armed robber--and if not, perhaps it is wrong to shoot an armed robber? Can you picture Jesus fighting a forest fire? Can you picture Jesus handcuffing a violent suspect? Can you picture Jesus taking down an al-Qaeda terrorist who is about to fly an airplane into a building?

    You imply it is somehow wrong or ill-advised for a pastor to point out a candidate who can be relied on to uphold moral standards...or warn against one who clearly will promote immoral standards. I'd certainly like to know how, after all Jesus told us about teaching others about right and wrong, you reckon this to be a problem.

    I also don't know of anyone who is opposed to upholding the dignity of illegal aliens. Identifying them and sending them home is quite sufficient, and it can be done humanely with full respect to their human dignity, just as we appropriately deal with other criminals in our country.

    Surely if you have any experience with the Bible whatsoever you have some idea of what those "most cherished values" are. They are found in the Bible, and you are right that they are objective. They include protection of innocent human life, the sanctity of marriage and human sexuality, property rights and more. It isn't too difficult to examine these values, then examine the candidates and see which ones line up and which ones don't. And you are quite right that a church/pastor which advocated for things that are blatantly anti-Christian (e.g. abortion, homosexual behavior, theft, etc.) would forfeit their integrity. Pastors would only compromise their creed if they endorsed a candidate who clearly did not uphold these values.

    In the end, the voter must decide, and they will be the one who will be accountable for either supporting a candidate who will strengthen the moral fiber of our society, or one who will cause further damage to it. But as the one primarily entrusted with informing the conscience of their flock, pastors have a duty to point out clear moral distinctions, in both issues and candidates.

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  10. Tony, you're close, but since so many people are misled (and some mislead) about this issue, I should point out a critical distinction.

    Our government, while founded by Christians on Christian principles, is secular in that does not look to a particular holy body, person or book as its sole authority, i.e. it isn't a theocracy.

    That does not however, mean that our public policy will not reflect any particular religious view. You might want to go back and read that piece about the Treaty of Tripoli if you still suffer from that assumption.

    Were our government to divorce itself from an particular religious view, we could have no laws against murder, theft, rape, vandalism, etc. as these are all religious views of morality. Obviously that is a flawed assumption about our government.

    Virtually all the founders made it clear that religion and religious values are vital to the health and survival of our republic. President George Washington said it was an "indispensable support" of our government, and John Adams stated our constitution was designed for and could only govern a moral and religious people. Even the man who was probably the least religious of the founders, Benjamin Franklin, started the institution of beginning our legislative sessions in prayer. Similar sentiments which indicate that the founders expected our government and public policy to be guided by Christian values were echoed by John Hancock, Charles Carroll, Benjamin Rush, Noah Webster, Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, James Wilson, Thomas Jefferson and more.

    To better understand how the founders intended religious values to guide public policy without a state church or religion (as they prohibited in the First Amendment), I suggest re-reading the quotes from Alexis de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America" in the article I referenced--or better yet, read the unabridged version of the book. It is tremendously enlightening.

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  11. If we were a country based on true tolerance this would be a complete non issue, but so much of this argument lies with those that insist we are a Christian nation with specific values that must prevail. I don't want to live in the United States of Iran. Some of you do.

    Some Teabaggers are willing to say the stupidest things and prove why we need these separations: "Allah is just a Monkey God. Muslims are the animals of Allah"
    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/05/tea_party_leader_allah_is_monkey_god.php?ref=fpb

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  12. Bob-

    After reading your essay, I would like to point out that most of your quotations refer to morality and religion interchangeably. For example your first quote:

    "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness. – George Washington’s Presidential Farewell Address"

    I read that as Washington saying that morality is important and he happens to find the teachings of his religion to be moral.

    I certainly agree with your quotations that morality is important. However, I don't believe that morality is derived from religion. I believe that our religions reflect our morality and change over time to accommodate changing views of morality.

    Now, to directly address your quotes, I also reject your assertion that these quotes correctly reflect how the founders viewed religion because their actions (the ratifying of the treaty) are not matching up with these particular quotes.

    When hard policy decision have had to be made, the founders clearly chose to declare the country is secular and would not reflect any particular religious view.

    With regards to pastors preaching for or against a candidate, I have no problem with this so long as the particular religious group turns in its tax exempt status. We have a clear, bright line standard now. We don't want to muddy it, the policy implications are quite bad.

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  13. This issue has a simple solution, file a lawsuit against church financial boards. Watch the rats jump.

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  14. I mean, really.

    Isn't this a simple law enforcement interdiction? File complaints, hire lawyers and litigate for an outcome.

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  15. Steve: I'll raise holy heck if any Muslim fundamentalists try taking voer our state government as well. But since Muslim dudes stand about as much chance as I do of winning public office in this state, I'll hold my fire on that arugment for now.

    Phil! So good to hear from you. I apologize for Bob's rough treatment of you: he's a bad neighbor who insists on taking even the slightest disagreement as cause to relaunch his screaming crusade against the liberal devils. He also imagines a world of crystal clear absolutes. Ah, so comfortable... and so incomplete. And tha the insists on trotting out his "if you have any experience with the Bible" insinuation... on you, of all people. Bob, you just can't avoid belittling and demonizing the intelligent people who disagree with you, can you? [Yes, I belittle and demonize, too... but 'm not a good Christian. What's your excuse, Bob? ;-)]

    [Brent -- enable profile, please!]

    Larry, I'm with you. Find a pastor who will endorse from the pulpit in front of an IRS agent, and let's go to court.

    I notice Bob has continued to miss the question I raise about whether it's really appropriate for a pastor to praise any man other than Jesus from the pulpit.

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  16. Tony, almost all of the founders were devout, Bible-believing Christians. They believed morality is found through religion, and they believed Christianity is the one true religion.

    Now, you can manufacture a moral code outside of religion, but it has no objectivity, no transcendence. In the end, a man-made moral code can either be accepted by people or rejected by people with equal validity...so if you expect it to be accepted, it becomes a matter of who has the power and brute force to ensure it is accepted.

    For instance, if your man-made moral code says killing another person and taking their property is wrong, I can state with equal validity that my man-made moral code allows that killing if I want his stuff. Your moral code is no more valid or proper than mine.

    A moral code defined by the creator of the universe and the creator of humanity is objective and based on that Creator's character, and is transcendent, i.e. applicable to all people at all times in history.

    As to the Treaty of Tripoli, you can reject my assertion all you want, but it won't change the truth. Read it again. The treaty is clear in that it makes no statement which can be construed that our government and society are to be devoid of and divorced from Christian influence. We are not a theocracy as most Muslim nations are (virtually all of them, at that time), and thus our government "has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen (Muslims)."

    The history of the United States is overwhelmingly clear: the values and principles of our government have been founded on Christian principles of morality. As John Adams stated, our nation will not function properly for a secularist, anti-Christian society. (In fact, none do--the few that have tried it are already on or nearing the ash heap of history).

    And until Senator Johnson's self-centered insertion into the tax code in 1954, the invaluable role churches play in maintaining a healthy society was recognized and was not punished with taxation.

    We must return to the Constitutional standard--and our heritage of values--if our republic is to survive.

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  17. Cory, I'm truly sorry that too many cowardly, mealy-mouthed Christians have apparently given you the impression that Christians are supposed to be incapable of denouncing error and/or evil. But it just isn't so. You might read the accounts of Stephen and some other Christians so you can truly learn what a "belittling and demonzing" Christian is really like.

    I realize your knowledge of Christianity is next to nil, and what little you do know comes from errant sources, but if you believe it is somehow immoral for a pastor to commend another person from the pulpit, perhaps you'd grace us with the Scripture reference where that is found. I recall that the New Testament is full of statements where many men and women are commended for their moral stances (other than Jesus, by the way), so I'm virtually certain no such reference exists.

    But you certainly wish one did, so that you could use it to silence the Christians you so despise and continue your campaign of promoting immoral behavior unhindered.

    Alas for you, Christianity doesn't work that way, and neither does the United States. Both are founded on an objective moral standard, and you refuse to go live in one of the Marxist countries you seem to love so much.

    So you're just going to have to man-up and promote your immoral agenda on its own merits (but it doesn't have any, does it?)

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  18. [Bob, everyone else here is trying to be logical. You repeat the same formulaic insults as always: calling those who disagree with you "cowardly, mealy-mouthed," and wholly ignorant, accusing us of despising Christians (my Christian wife would challenge that baseless assertion), and closing as usual with the suggestion that the rest of us are sissies. Not one of those statements advances your argument. Your hateful rhetoric clouds every issue beyond recognition.]

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  19. Cory, I'm sorry for you that you despise straight talk and simply telling the truth. You don't seem to mind creating a facsimile of straight talk when it comes to promoting your liberal propaganda, though. You only seem to like timidity and reticence for Christians and conservatives.

    You should learn something from some of your liberal commenters here. They are wrong, but at least they know how to carry on a decent conversation, examining what has been said, offering reasoned(if flawed) counter-arguments, and recognizing on some level when the truth has been pointed out to them.

    You simply seem intent on expecting Christians and conservatives to just shut up and let you have your way unchallenged.

    I hate to break it to you, but it isn't going to happen.

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  20. Ellis is his own worst enemy. Any objective reader would likely conclude that if a thorough understanding of scripture results in one's browbeating and verbally abusing his fellows the way he does, it must be a bad book indeed.

    In short, either the book is wrong, or he is.

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  21. I read recently a good share of the founding fathers were deists, but regardless, what's clear is secularism doesn't impeded anyone's rights. SOME people with strong religious convictions are much more willing to do so and less respectful of other people's beliefs. There's no shame in being a secularist, a humanist, a free thinker. In fact there's a beauty there we fail to appreciate much of the time. To all religion: Don't Tread on Me!

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  22. Bill, once again you join Cory in demonstrating your dearth of Biblical knowledge. You'd do yourself a favor if you stuck with things you know something of...whatever that is.

    You should both read not only the account of Stephen, but also some other Bible-believers like Elijah--he had quite a bit of fun with the liberals of his day. Why, even Jesus didn't mince words with the self-appointed peddlers of Hell-bound "righteousness" of his day.

    If I am condemned for unabashedly denouncing error and deception like Stephen, Elijah, or Christ, well, I don't think I'm in bad company at all.

    Meanwhile...the evidence stands overwhelmingly in favor of proving America's rich Christian heritage, and the right of Christians--including pastors--to speak the truth unfettered.

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  23. More predictable bluster and deception from Bob, who wheezes about "The Truth" while my question still stands: is it appropriate to use the pulpit to raise one man above others? Is it a pastor's place to tell Christians from the pulpit that any one political candidate is more Godly and voteworthy than another?

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  24. Cory, I despise Christianity and all organized religion.

    Debating with a Christian is like smashing your face into a plate glass window. Circular reasoning my friend, circular reasoning. If a Christian can't point back to their book to support their position, they have nothing.

    L. Ron Hubbard had it right, "The way to make a million dollars is to start a religion."

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  25. Bob, my experience of you is direct, existential and empirical. And my point is, if studying the Bible to the depth you have results in behavior such as you display toward your fellow man, (insults, derision, contempt, abuse) I'm not interested. Who would be?

    Suffice it to say that I have read the scriptures thoroughly, and arrived at an understanding quite different than yours.

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  26. Hans (or is it Franz?) proves once again that opinions are like a$$holes... everyone's got one.

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  27. That be it Jackrabbit!

    Debating this issue with a Christian who can't see that there is a problem with pulpit politics and preaching political stance to their parishioners is like beating a dead cow. Which you see here.

    5 different Christians will pull 5 different meanings from one scripture as well as the characters of the bible. God sure did a bang up job on conveying 'his word' didn't he? My Dyson vacuum cleaner manual is clearer than the bible!

    I find it sad that these type of guys are the majority in my home state. The old saying, "South Dakota, where it's always sunny and 1958" seems always sadly to apply.

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  28. Permit me to remind my gentle readers that my position on this issue has nothing to do with whether any religion is right or wrong. My position is based on the idea that doing Christianity right calls for pastors not to mingle endorsements of specific candidates from the pulpit.

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  29. Cory, I have already answered your question about the appropriateness of speaking well of a particular person from the pulpit. You have failed to answer mine regarding the Scriptural basis upon which you rest your allegation that there is something inappropriate about it. (Perhaps because you know there is none, eh?)

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  30. Bill, you likely came up with this "quite different" understanding because you did not want to accept and be subservient to its truths. God's truth isn't subject to human approval, and it isn't to be mixed with human delusion.

    If one acts in a contemptible manner (lying, deceiving, advocating the subversion of others God-given freedom, etc.), had one not become deserving of contempt?

    Again, search the Scriptures. Read the words of Christ to those who attempted to mislead others into Hell. Read the words of Paul for those who attempted to deceive people. Read the words of Stephen for those who misrepresented God, who longed for servitude and bondage over the freedom provided by God, who resisted God, who persecuted God's people. Read the words of Elijah for the charlatans who foisted a man-made religion of death on the people. Read the words of the Psalms for those who attempt to beguile people into Hell.

    If you read them, you'll find that my denunciation of your and Cory's error is pretty tame. As I told Cory, some of your fellow liberals are actually able to hold a somewhat reasoned--if flawed--conversation. But you two, your faux pleasantry while you peddle words of death are like the offerings of Proverbs 27:6.

    Like those described in 1 Corinthians 3:2 and Hebrews 5:13, you obviously can't handle the meat of Scripture and even choke on its milk. What little you think you know of God's truth seems to have come from ear-ticklers like those in 2 Timothy 4:3. That is the way that seems right to humans, but leads to death (Proverbs 14:12). And I wouldn't be doing you any favors if I soft-peddled that sad truth.

    I encourage you to continue on and earnestly seek the truth. Learn to handle the milk of the truth and aspire to the meat. God could use you greatly if you'd only renounce the dark and embrace the light of God's truth.

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  31. Phil Germann5/19/2010 1:44 PM

    Bob,

    I can certainly understand that from the current mainstream conservative position it is difficult to differentiate between centrists and liberals, but if you read my comments to Cory's 4/8 Facebook posting entitled "China eats 2.4M US jobs..." you will find that I'm not quite the "liberal" lapdog of your imagination. No need to name call. :-)

    You say, "In the end, the voter must decide, and they will be the one who will be accountable...." We agree on this. You also say, "...pastors have a duty to point out clear moral distinctions, in both issues and candidates." Again, we agree about the 'issues,' but not the 'candidates.' That's the distinction I'm making (and I think Cory too).

    When a pastor gives guidance on an issue, he is illuminating the issue in the light of what you call "most cherished values." However, any particular candidate is bound to disappoint. Since for some reason you seem convinced that I'm hung up on water boarding, let's look at some other examples: Carter directly supported the brutal junta in El Salvador. Reagan supported Sadaam Hussein against Iran and the Mujahedin against the Soviets. Johnson ordered Operation Rolling Thunder in Vietnam for 2 1/2 years knowing full well that thousands of civilians would die from the conventional carpet bombing. Candidates are unpredictable, but issues can be idealized.

    Candidates can surprise, however: Obama, going further than any of his predecessors, signed the most restrictive executive order since Roe v Wade, banning federal funds for abortions.

    Even within my church, there are widely disparate political views. Dorothy Day was a liberal, and Joseph Bernardin was a conservative, but both raised the banner of "social justice" and were vigorous defenders of human dignity. Which one would be endorsed by priests and pastors today?

    Churches have the weighty responsibility to form the consciences of their members -- not to tell them which political candidate to support. By focusing on the candidates, the pastor who endorses politicians affronts the dignity and intelligence of his flock. Does the pastor really deign to assume that because he's looked at the holy words longer he has some special predictive political insight? No, he just has a pulpit.

    I am amused at your repeated characterization of "Christian and conservative" in the same breath, as if one can't be one without being the other. Perhaps you aren't familiar with Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the UCC (http://www.ucc.org/about-us/our-core-identity.html). I wonder: Are they Christian? Are they deluding themselves? Perhaps they just don't have the Truth, as your church does. Or maybe (Sacre Bleu!) *your* church is the one that's wrong. Hmmm. See the quagmire that we've got into by endorsing politicians? Which church has the True Interpretation of Scripture as it relates to American politicians?

    In the end, Christian principles are universal -- love, tolerance, community, compassion, forgiveness. There is no serious Christian who would disagree with them. But to somehow say that a church leader can accurately determine which of those qualities are best embodied within a particular set of candidates, and their hypothetical future responses to unknown situations? The answer will always be: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

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  32. Bob, tell ya what, let's both keep working on it, okay partner?

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  33. Here's a good parable; hope it helps. Namaste

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVeJpYASovM&feature=related

    Funny, my post word verification is "distism," priceless...

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  34. Hey Bob,

    I would love to see you step out of the bible/ your belief for a moment and look at this issue from a ethical humanistic standpoint.

    Clearly some people need congregate en mass around spirituality. I don't get it, but they do. The person chosen to 'organize' or direct that group en mass should have the utmost core ethics. I think we've seen a plethora of examples over the years of those within that position who have abused it, Catholic priests, Jim Jones, Ted Haggard, Pat Robertson, Jimmy Swaggard, sadly, that list goes on and on... Again, I find it completely bizarre fellow humans need this type of stimulation in 2010 or is it simple tradition that generations fear to break from? I don't know...

    I digress, humans gathering en mass for spiritual reasons and politics/ being advised in that arena who they should vote for, have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Just like they shouldn't be told to move to Guyana and drink kool-aid or slam a jet into the world trade center. Yet, there are those unethical bastards in that spiritual position of power, cross that line and get fellow humans to do the unspeakable.

    Then there is the law. That spiritual arena that humans flock to, falls into the order of a larger system and how it's registered in that system is 501C3. You advise humans en mass at that spiritual center how to vote? You are breaking the law, unless of course these centers notify the system at large what they plan to do and start paying into the system. Which, the later, I would LOVE to see...

    So what you are saying is that humans in spiritual power are above the law and basic ethics?

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  35. Phil, if one espouses liberal positions, then one is a liberal. It's not name calling; it's identification. I hold conservative values and am proud to be called a conservative. If one holds liberal values--however wrong those values may be--they should have the integrity to either be proud of them...or abandon them for something they can be proud of.

    You are correct that when a pastor gives guidance on an issue, he is illuminating the issue in the light of our cherished values and most importantly, what the Bible says about right and wrong. But when you have two or more candidates and one or more of them is either, based on their statements and/or public record, a good proponent of strong moral values, or a strong proponent of bad moral values, then a pastor may also have a duty to point out which of these is which. No human being will ever represent God's values perfectly, and to promote the false expectation that one must before they can legitimately be endorsed is to set a standard so that that no good candidate may be endorsed...which illegitimately puts the bad candidate on the same moral plain as the good one. That is a deception that lends strength to evil.

    By the way, I am not hung up on waterboarding. Liberals are hung up on waterboarding. And with regard to the other references you mentioned, again I think you are allowing a goal of perfection to be the enemy of the good. We must not fall into that trap and strengthen the hand of evil.

    I'm not sure whether Jeremiah Wright is a Christian, not being able to see into his heart to determine if he has a genuine life-changing relationship with Christ. But Christ does tell us we will be known by our fruits...and his fruits are pretty rotten. Incidentally, we can also make pretty accurate judgments about good politicians and bad politicians by examining the fruits of their lives. If their lives produce fruit in opposition to God's teaching, odds are they are not a child of God and won't make a good, moral representative.

    You are right about the Christian principles of love, tolerance, community, compassion, forgiveness. Those are relatively easy to carry out in our modern culture, and few would disagree with them.

    But we also have a sacred charge from Christ that is no less important to "teach them to obey everything I have commanded you" and to be prepared in season and out of season to speak the truth. We have a commission to, as outlined in First Corinthians, to judge what is right and what is wrong, as stated in Ezekiel chapter 3 to ensure people have a warning about the wrong path, and as stated in Second Corinthians chapter 10 to challenge and correct every argument and pretension that sets itself up against God's truth..That one is very hard to do in today's "I'm okay, you're okay" culture of nonjudgmentalism. But God didn't command us to be well liked; he commanded us to tell his truth so that people may be snatched from the fire and saved, even as I was.

    In the end, congregants and parishioners can and will make their own choices at the voting booth; no pastor or anyone else will be in that booth to force their vote, so much of this hysteria is a smokescreen. To ensure that parishioners know the stance and record of candidates no more insults their intelligence than ensuring they are educated on the issues...or, for that matter, ensuring they know murder is wrong, sex outside of marriage is wrong, theft is wrong, etc. There is no area of our lives that moral choices do not touch, which means there is no area of our lives that is off limits for helpful Biblical instruction.

    Though I disagree with your conclusions, thank you for a thoughtful and reasoned discussion that did not simply turn an immediate blind eye.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Phil, if one espouses liberal positions, then one is a liberal. It's not name calling; it's identification. I hold conservative values and am proud to be called a conservative. If one holds liberal values--however wrong those values may be--they should have the integrity to either be proud of them...or abandon them for something they can be proud of.

    You are correct that when a pastor gives guidance on an issue, he is illuminating the issue in the light of our cherished values and most importantly, what the Bible says about right and wrong. But when you have two or more candidates and one or more of them is either, based on their statements and/or public record, a good proponent of strong moral values, or a strong proponent of bad moral values, then a pastor may also have a duty to point out which of these is which. No human being will ever represent God's values perfectly, and to promote the false expectation that one must before they can legitimately be endorsed is to set a standard so that that no good candidate may be endorsed...which illegitimately puts the bad candidate on the same moral plain as the good one. That is a deception that lends strength to evil.

    By the way, I am not hung up on waterboarding. Liberals are hung up on waterboarding. And with regard to the other references you mentioned, again I think you are allowing a goal of perfection to be the enemy of the good. We must not fall into that trap and strengthen the hand of evil.

    I'm not sure whether Jeremiah Wright is a Christian, not being able to see into his heart to determine if he has a genuine life-changing relationship with Christ. But Christ does tell us we will be known by our fruits...and his fruits are pretty rotten. Incidentally, we can also make pretty accurate judgments about good politicians and bad politicians by examining the fruits of their lives. If their lives produce fruit in opposition to God's teaching, odds are they are not a child of God and won't make a good, moral representative.

    You are right about the Christian principles of love, tolerance, community, compassion, forgiveness. Those are relatively easy to carry out in our modern culture, and few would disagree with them.

    But we also have a sacred charge from Christ that is no less important to "teach them to obey everything I have commanded you" and to be prepared in season and out of season to speak the truth. We have a commission to, as outlined in First Corinthians, to judge what is right and what is wrong, as stated in Ezekiel chapter 3 to ensure people have a warning about the wrong path, and as stated in Second Corinthians chapter 10 to challenge and correct every argument and pretension that sets itself up against God's truth..That one is very hard to do in today's "I'm okay, you're okay" culture of nonjudgmentalism. But God didn't command us to be well liked; he commanded us to tell his truth so that people may be snatched from the fire and saved, even as I was.

    In the end, congregants and parishioners can and will make their own choices at the voting booth; no pastor or anyone else will be in that booth to force their vote, so much of this hysteria is a smokescreen. To ensure that parishioners know the stance and record of candidates no more insults their intelligence than ensuring they are educated on the issues...or, for that matter, ensuring they know murder is wrong, sex outside of marriage is wrong, theft is wrong, etc. There is no area of our lives that moral choices do not touch, which means there is no area of our lives that is off limits for helpful Biblical instruction.

    Though I disagree with your conclusions, thank you for a thoughtful and reasoned discussion that did not simply turn an immediate blind eye.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Howdy, Hans.

    From a humanistic standpoint, yours is an interesting statement. I can see why, from that standpoint, what Christians do and why they do it might seem odd.

    We congregate, first of all, because God commanded us to. I think there are a number of reasons why he wanted us to do this, including but not limited to: learn more about our faith from those with more experience in it, encouraging one another, reminding one another of the principles we've chosen to live our lives by (the fallen world around us sends directly the opposite messages from all directions), to pray for one another, to spot-check the alignment of our lives to God's truth, to praise and worship our God together, to help one another, to get better equipped to help others outside the church understand the truths we've learned, etc.

    It's true that some of these things can be done individually, but it's a lot harder.

    And yes, a few have abused their positions of authority over the years. That is why it is so very important that Christians know the Bible and know it well. The Bible is the standard and measure of truth, not any leader.

    As to what Christian gatherings and politics have to do with one another...remember how I said above that several key purposes of gathering in churches was to learn about the truth and ensure our lives are lived in alignment with God's truth? Part of God's truth is that, as creator of the universe and everything in it and the laws that govern it, absolutely every area of our lives are under the watchful eye and concern of God. Since government has authority delegated by God to maintain order as well as protect the lives and property of people, it is at least of as much interest to God as any other area of our lives--especially since one man or woman in a key position in government has the opportunity to perpetuate much good...or much evil. Elected officials can promote the killing of innocent human beings (or at the very least, do nothing to stop it), or they can act to protect innocent human life. Elected officials can act to protect the property of citizens...or make it easier to have it misappropriated. And so on.

    As to the law, the reason current tax law prohibits pastors from speaking for or against candidates is because Senator Lyndon Johnson in 1954 added this provision in order to silence his critics who were members of a tax exempt organization. It was a self-centered, crass, and dirty move, nothing more. The U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to free speech and free expression of religion without penalty. Since colonial days and until 1954, our society recognized the incalculable value of the service churches provide to society (put briefly, in teaching people to behave and live moral lives--keeping the costs of justice and incarceration down).

    As many throughout human history (Jesus, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, the founders of our nation, and more) have demonstrated, there is no moral compulsion to obeyu unjust and illegal laws (as Johnson's 1954 provision is). As our founders put it, resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.

    Pastors, as authorities on right and wrong, have an obligation to ensure that those they serve know right and wrong--even in the realm of politics and political candidates.

    I hope this helps.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Phil, if one espouses liberal positions, then one is a liberal. It's not name calling; it's identification. I hold conservative values and am proud to be called a conservative. If one holds liberal values--however wrong those values may be--they should have the integrity to either be proud of them...or abandon them for something they can be proud of.

    You are correct that when a pastor gives guidance on an issue, he is illuminating the issue in the light of our cherished values and most importantly, what the Bible says about right and wrong. But when you have two or more candidates and one or more of them is either, based on their statements and/or public record, a good proponent of strong moral values, or a strong proponent of bad moral values, then a pastor may also have a duty to point out which of these is which. No human being will ever represent God's values perfectly, and to promote the false expectation that one must before they can legitimately be endorsed is to set a standard so that that no good candidate may be endorsed...which illegitimately puts the bad candidate on the same moral plain as the good one. That is a deception that lends strength to evil.

    By the way, I am not hung up on waterboarding. Liberals are hung up on waterboarding. And with regard to the other references you mentioned, again I think you are allowing a goal of perfection to be the enemy of the good. We must not fall into that trap and strengthen the hand of evil.

    I'm not sure whether Jeremiah Wright is a Christian, not being able to see into his heart to determine if he has a genuine life-changing relationship with Christ. But Christ does tell us we will be known by our fruits...and his fruits are pretty rotten. Incidentally, we can also make pretty accurate judgments about good politicians and bad politicians by examining the fruits of their lives. If their lives produce fruit in opposition to God's teaching, odds are they are not a child of God and won't make a good, moral representative.

    You are right about the Christian principles of love, tolerance, community, compassion, forgiveness. Those are relatively easy to carry out in our modern culture, and few would disagree with them.

    But we also have a sacred charge from Christ that is no less important to "teach them to obey everything I have commanded you" and to be prepared in season and out of season to speak the truth. We have a commission to, as outlined in First Corinthians, to judge what is right and what is wrong, as stated in Ezekiel chapter 3 to ensure people have a warning about the wrong path, and as stated in Second Corinthians chapter 10 to challenge and correct every argument and pretension that sets itself up against God's truth..That one is very hard to do in today's "I'm okay, you're okay" culture of nonjudgmentalism. But God didn't command us to be well liked; he commanded us to tell his truth so that people may be snatched from the fire and saved, even as I was.

    In the end, congregants and parishioners can and will make their own choices at the voting booth; no pastor or anyone else will be in that booth to force their vote, so much of this hysteria is a smokescreen. To ensure that parishioners know the stance and record of candidates no more insults their intelligence than ensuring they are educated on the issues...or, for that matter, ensuring they know murder is wrong, sex outside of marriage is wrong, theft is wrong, etc. There is no area of our lives that moral choices do not touch, which means there is no area of our lives that is off limits for helpful Biblical instruction.

    Though I disagree with your conclusions, thank you for a thoughtful and reasoned discussion that did not simply turn an immediate blind eye.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Thanks Bob. Without a doubt, you are Christian Nationalist and without a doubt, am sure you are proud of that fact. Where do you worship? Just curious...

    ReplyDelete
  40. No, I am not a "Christian Nationalist." I am a Christian, and I understand and appreciate the well-documented Christian history and heritage of our nation.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Arrogant statements like this pretty much expresses the mindset of why I dislike finger-pointing religious zealots: Pastors, as authorities on right and wrong, have an obligation to ensure that those they serve know right and wrong--even in the realm of politics and political candidates.

    I mean really man, who do you think you are???

    ReplyDelete
  42. JohnSD: If you attend a university, do you think you know more than your professors (perhaps you do)?

    If you work for an employer, do you think you know what needs to be done better than he does (perhaps you do)?

    If you are a member of an organization that has a president or director, do you think you know better how the organization should operate than that president or director (perhaps you do)?

    And we won't even get into your ineptitude at differentiating good from evil.

    Arrogance? Go look in the mirror.

    ReplyDelete
  43. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5v1W2i2YgsQ

    I know Bob or Steve won't look at the link but would invite others here to learn more at the Christian Nationalist agenda.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Hans, why would I not look at the link? I read liberal tripe, blather and propaganda every day (one must know one's enemy). The fact that I'm here on this website demonstrates this.

    I should point out that there is no "Christian Nationalist" movement. There once was such an organization, started by some antisemitic nut jobs, but even it went defunct many years ago.

    Liberals and secularists like to throw the term around today to falsely paint their enemies (people who recognize our nation's Christian heritage and defend our constitutional right to religious expression) as theocratic extremists.

    This woman Michelle Goldber is nothing but a premier secularist revisionist who completely misrepresents Christianity, Christians, our nation's history and our nation's Christian heritage. She makes it clear that she desperately wants people to believe that America was not founded by Christians as a Christian nation, and that we did not function a such a nation until only the past few decades. While it is possible that she could really be so deluded as to not believe this herself, I have to believe that someone of her station cannot be so ignorant, and must therefore be engaging in a deliberate campaign of propaganda and lies.

    The dedicated and deep Christian faith of almost all of the founders is so well documented, only the current level of widespread public ignorance coupled with propaganda efforts such as these over the past 50 years could ever hope to gain any traction.

    In fact, it isn't getting much traction. Despite the pathetic state of public education and the full court press by the education establishment to indoctrinate our youth with a sanitized and myopic version of our history, a Newsweek (definitely no conservative organization) poll conducted last year still found a very large majority of Americans realize we were founded a Christian nation.

    Now, at this point I doubt you have any real interest in the facts or the truth, but for the benefit of any open minds who might be reading here, I will point to some resources that, while only the tip of the iceberg of proof of America's Christian heritage, also explain for the benefit of anyone who is genuinely confused about the difference between a theocracy (something America has never been and no one wants) and a nation that is Christian in character--something America has always been until the recent war on our heritage:

    http://www.dakotavoice.com/2008/10/confusion-at-southdacola-over-treaty-of-tripoli/

    http://www.dakotavoice.com/category/church-and-state/
    http://www.dakotavoice.com/category/christian-heritage/

    I will also be publishing a fresh article at Dakota Voice any moment now. The historical facts citied are prolific and easy to find for anyone with a desire to learn the truth. But if you're happier living in a fake secularist dream, don't bother reading any of this or doing any research.

    I had hoped when you first mentioned the term that you were merely ignorant about these liberal revisionists who seek to erase our well-documented heritage, as well as our First Amendment protections of religious liberty. After your first comment yesterday I had hoped you were more reasonable than most of the liberal trolls who comment here. I now see my optimisim was misplaced, and that was just an act, and you're just the typical liberal propaganda artist dedicated to remolding reality into a more pleasant fantasy world.

    I'm sorry I wasted any time talking with you as one would with a person believed to be interested in truth. I can only hope someone interested in the truth with an open mind might benefit from this.

    ReplyDelete

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