Atheist prayers can be barred by House chaplain, appeals court says

Discussion in 'Religion & Philosophy' started by Bluesguy, Apr 21, 2019.

  1. Paul7

    Paul7 Well-Known Member

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    "We have no Government armed with Power capable of contending with human Passions unbridled by morality and Religion. Avarice, Ambition Revenge or Galantry, would break the strongest Cords of our Constitution as a Whale goes through a Net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

    John Adams
     
  2. Arjay51

    Arjay51 Banned

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    Since there appears to be no evidence of this god, what does it matter? If he is all powerful as claimed, every thing is proceeding as ordered.

    If in fact, as many suspect, there is o god what difference does it make?
     
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  3. Swensson

    Swensson Devil's advocate

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    I don't really know who that is to the point that I care what he has to say about religion.
    I agree with this, and I think it is an argument in my favour. This point clearly shows that advertisement works, and as such, placing the ten commandments in City Hall is unduly favouring one religion above others. The fact that sales would go down if you remove them is not unduly favouring non-religion, it is simply removing the undue favour of Christianity. Only the unfair advantage is being removed.

    Well, I guess we think differently. I'm sure you know as well as I that the Bill of rights is often considered to be the minorities' protection against the tyranny of the majority.

    I mean, fair, let me rephrase it. It doesn't unduly favour any religion. It still allows religions to do their own thing, as long as it is consistent with the establishment clause.
    Ugh, you're making me do research.

    "In this article we [...] determine whether the drop in the nation's Crime Rate from 1980 to 1988 (the Reagan period) is due to changes in the age structure of the population [...] But no discernible reduction in crime rates occurred, suggesting that no law enforcement strategy can be confidently recommended as a remedy to the nation's crime problem"
    https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0022427891028003005

    [​IMG]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime...Property_Crime_Rates_in_the_United_States.svg

    Seems to indicate the large impact is the Clinton years. Reagan had an impact, but it restored itself before Reagan got out of office.

    [​IMG]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime...e:Violent_crime_rates_by_gender_1973-2003.png

    This tells a similar story, the big impact happens during (but in this case, the trend doesn't start until after Clinton takes office).

    Similarly, Sweden is quite non-religious and has relatively little crime.

    Of course, I am not claiming that this proves that my point leads to less crime, I'm merely saying that your analysis is probably too simplistic, and while there certainly are those who argue the things that you do, to assume that it is true seems to be a biased decision.

    I was asking specifically from a establishment clause view. The establishment clause doesn't say "Government shall not establish a religion unless xwsmithx thinks the religion is beneficial", the rule doesn't say anything that makes the desirability relevant.

    At the time, basically everyone believed in a god in one way or another, it started changing when it became clear that things like alluding to "our creator" didn't actually include everyone.

    I'm not a teacher, nor a parent, I haven't had to lay it out to anyone, but most people I know are irreligious, and it seems to me none of them are failing to behave morally. Certainly, they don't seem to perform worse than religious people.

    The way I look at it, "what's in it for me" simply isn't the central question. Acting immorally against others when you wouldn't want it yourself is hypocrisy, and we can identify that hypocrisy is bad. But I can't say whether that's the way most people look at it.

    Abortions are not universally considered immoral
    Divorce rates are often a sign of improvement (abusive/bad relationships exist, divorce rates is the rate at which people succeed in getting out of them, simplified)
    As for alcohol and drugs, I'm not sure what metric you're using. Alcohol has reduced massively since religion started dropping, but I reckon that's due to other causes. The last few years, changes in alcohol use is more likely due to deregulation. Drugs I don't really know about, is it rising any faster than it is in other countries?
    Bestiality was always illegal in Sweden, it just got a separate entry in the law in 2014. Before, bestiality was simply prosecuted as animal abuse.
    We also have a different approach to crime statistics. In Sweden, we work to increase report rates of crimes, whereas many other countries incentivise politicians to choose metrics which suppress reporting crimes.
    Not marrying is also only an immorality if you approach it from a religious point of view. My parents weren't married, but stayed together, I would consider myself to have a very stable childhood.

    It seems to me, pretty consistently, that the immorality you see running rampant are things which aren't really a problem to anyone actually in Sweden. It wouldn't surprise me if you could find some metric in which it is worse in Sweden, but certainly, it seems like the your perception of Sweden's immorality has more to do with your view of immorality than it does with anything actually going on in Sweden.

    Why? If they believe it regardless, why couldn't we give them the nuanced picture? The version you suggest doesn't seem more "effective" than that of humanism. It seems merely more extreme, and open to criticism.

    Well, unless there were similar expressions of faith (or lack or whatever) for other world views, I still fail to see how that isn't an establishment. Clearly one is favoured above others, opting out doesn't really change that.

    Why are you thankful of that? Should the US mean that much to you? I'm quite proud of my Swedishness but I don't see that it would be better if it meant more to me. Indoctrination smacks more of trying to avoid criticism than the indoctrinated thing actually deserving praise.
    Maybe maybe not. I don't think the irreligious of the world have acted irrationally. If it is true that civilisation crumbles when virtues are being ignored, then it is no more the irreligious' fault for disregarding those virtues than it is the religious' fault for creating virtues which the irreligious have to reject when faced with them.
     
  4. xwsmithx

    xwsmithx Well-Known Member

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    Sorry for the length. I didn't realize as I was going, which took a very long time, that it was getting so long.

    It's not so much what he had to say about religion but what he had to say about the public schools divorced from religion.

    The unfair advantage is then thrown to irreligion. If you buy the notion that the presence of the Ten Commandments favors religion, then there's no escape from the inevitable conclusion that the absence of the Ten Commandments favors irreligion. It's not equal, it's heavily weighted to one side, secularism.

    I agree with that, but I don't find a Christian society to be a threat to any religious minorities. If anything, a secularist society is far more of a threat to all religions than a Christian society is to minority religions. You can find a Muslim in every Christian country on earth, even Iceland, but there are fewer and fewer Christians in Muslim nations every year. And then the secular society that is China represses all religions, and even non-religious movements like Falun Gong.


    It's debatable whether or not secularism actually allows religions to "do their own thing" (see here), but the way the Court is interpreting the establishment clause actually does establish a religion, namely secularism. You're interpreting the establishment clause in a way that prevents the government from supporting religion in general. That's not what the establishment clause does. The establishment clause prevents the government from supporting a particular denomination. Do you wonder why the Court doesn't strike down "In God We Trust" or "under God" in the pledge of allegiance? It's because it's not against the 1st Amendment. In God We Trust is not an establishment of religion. Saying our nation is under God is not a violation of the establishment clause.


    But the big change is when Reagan came into office. Until 1980, crime was on a steep rise, stopped in its tracks by Reagan, and it didn't start to fall again until the number of prison cells started to catch up with the numbers of criminals in the 1990s.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. xwsmithx

    xwsmithx Well-Known Member

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    That's mostly a function of race and IQ rather than religion. Here in the U.S., crime and religiosity are inversely correlated, with the most religious people being the least likely to commit crime, and vice versa. Just the opposite is true in Muslim countries and among Muslims in Western countries, of course, the most religious people are the most likely to commit terrorist acts and the least religious are the least likely to do so.

    I try not to assume anything but go by hard data. Here, for example:

    https://www.livescience.com/1465-study-religion-good-kids.html
    https://www.livescience.com/4017-churchgoers-live-longer.html
    https://www.livescience.com/9090-religion-people-happier-hint-god.html
    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/science...-shoplift-drugs-download-music-illegally.html


    But you're still starting from the position that promoting Christianity is an establishment of religion, when it is not.


    That's really not true. A lot of our founding fathers were atheists, Deists, etc., and a lot of our most prominent citizens over the years have been agnostics. By and large, they didn't feel put upon, repressed, or otherwise discriminated against by what was an overwhelmingly Christian country, one in which the president regularly offered prayers, schools had daily prayers, crosses and creches regularly adorned public spaces, etc. Today, you find a LOT of Christians saying they feel put upon, repressed, and otherwise discriminated against by what today seems like an overwhelmingly secular nation, despite the 85% who say they believe in God.


    "To be sure, American Christians experience nothing like the gruesome punishment Christians undergo daily around the globe. Yet the precursor to persecution is always repression, the forcing-down of Christian faith into quiet corners where its visibility is limited and its impact is weakened.

    We are witnessing that kind of growing repression in the U.S. today and it is fostering or at least giving rise to the spread of the persecution of Christians and religious minorities around the world. Even as we stand with believers like Kim Dae Jin, we have to be vigilant in defending religious liberty where it's always been most sacred – our own country."

    https://www.christianpost.com/news/persecution-repression-and-religious-liberty.html

    Your dismissal of what counts as "moral" below makes your claim here suspect.

    Yeahhhh, I don't see rejecting hypocrisy taking the place of religious belief as a fundamental moral code.

    So if immorality is increasing, just stop counting those things as immoral, eh? Convenient. And women have always been able to get out of abusive relationships. The reason divorce has become commonplace is no-fault divorce, neither party now has to be "aggrieved", marriage can be ended in a trice simply because one party wants out. There's been no increase in the number of domestic abuse cases, and certainly not double or triple to account for the doubled or tripled divorce rate. The #1 reason given for divorce these days is "irreconcilable differences", not abuse. And in the US, unmarried mothers are the #1 source of crime, poverty, and troubled kids. It's not a lifestyle choice, it's a serious societal problem. It's not unfair to call childbirth out of wedlock immoral. (Disclaimer: I was born out of wedlock and my parents later wed, but honestly, I probably would have been a lot better off if they hadn't, or if I had been raised by my maternal grandparents. But facts and statistics don't lie. Kids raised in married two-parent households turn out way better than kids who aren't.)

    But they don't, do they? Belief in the US is declining significantly, and even those who say they believe don't even know what they're talking about. Half of those who identify as Christians say other religions are equally valid ways to heaven. Nuance is for smart people. For the great mass of humanity, you have to dumb things down considerably.


    Establishment to me means you can't opt out. The Congress opens every session with a prayer. Are you compelled to listen? Are you compelled to agree? Are you compelled to even bow your head? No. Having a prayer doesn't qualify as establishment of religion to me. On the other hand, banning prayer does seem like the establishment of religion, the religion of secularism. You can't opt out of secularism. You can't stand up and offer a prayer on your own. You can't stand up and disagree with the policy. You must be a secularist whether you like it or not. That is the definition of establishment to me.


    Indoctrination clearly isn't all it's cracked up to be since the anti-American boomer generation were all indoctrinated the same way but still turned out to be horrible people. But now you have an entire generation of teachers teaching our kids that America is the source of all the evil in the world today. The kids of the 1920s and 30s were taught that America is great, and they turned out to be called The Greatest Generation. What do you think this next generation will be called? Will a generation that has been taught to hate their own country and their own people turn out to be a great generation? I think not.


    That makes no sense whatsoever. It's not the fault of the virtuous that the rest of the people are immoral. It is the fault of the elites when they promote self-interest ahead of virtue.

    "7. From apathy to dependence – Increasing numbers of people lack the virtues and zeal necessary to work and contribute. The suffering and the sacrifices that built the culture are now a distant memory. As discipline and work increasingly seem “too hard,” dependence grows. The collective culture now tips in the direction of dependence. Suffering of any sort seems intolerable. But virtue is not seen as the solution. Having lived on the sacrifices of others for years, the civilization now insists that “others” must solve their woes. This ushers in growing demands for governmental, collective solutions. This in turns deepens dependence, as solutions move from personal virtue and local, family-based sacrifices to centralized ones.

    8. From dependence back to bondage – As dependence increases, so does centralized power. Dependent people tend to become increasingly dysfunctional and desperate. Seeking a savior, they look to strong central leadership. But centralized power corrupts, and tends to usher in increasing intrusion by centralized power. Injustice and intrusion multiplies. But those in bondage know of no other solutions. Family and personal virtue (essential ingredients for any civilization) are now effectively replaced by an increasingly dark and despotic centralized control, hungry for more and more power. In this way, the civilization is gradually ended, because people in bondage no longer have the virtues necessary to fight.

    Another possibility is that a more powerful nation or group is able to enter, by invasion or replacement, and destroy the final vestiges of a decadent civilization and replace it with their own culture.

    Either way, it’s back to crucible, until suffering and conflict bring about enough of the wisdom, virtue, and courage necessary to begin a new civilization that will rise from the ashes."
     
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  6. Swensson

    Swensson Devil's advocate

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    I'm sorry for the long wait, but I finally got around to writing a bit here.
    Well, given that the correlations are different, it seems to suggest to me that the common factor is not religiosity, but some more complex and not necessary other factor is.

    I don't have a problem with data as such, my problem lies more with the conclusions you're willing to draw from the data. For instance, the researchers in the first article point out other potential explanations (which, as it happens would be more in line with the fact that religion and crime are low in Sweden). The second article doesn't seem to comment on the distinction, and the third also hints that the distinction isn't religion as such.


    I'm presenting several lines of reasoning in parallel, you seem to have mixed them up. In this line of argument, I want to see if you're giving undue favour to Christianity, by replacing Christianity with another religion and see if you still agree with your interpretation of the establishment clause. You first answered with comparing a bunch of religions, which of course avoids the question. I tried to bring it back to the interpretation of the establishment clause and now you've mixed in a line from another argument further down in the post. The argument which you replied to made no assumption about whether promoting Christianity is an establishment of religion (indeed, I deliberately constructed a hypothetical situation in which it was unclear which the established religion was.

    They seem mostly to have been Deists to me, and deists don't seem to be opposed to the idea of a creator.
    Again, I would like to introduce the examples of the Nordic countries. We're very irreligious, and probably have less religious hostilities than the US has. Again, my point is not that irreligion by default brings peace, North Korea shows that as not true, I'm saying religiosity is not in itself the distinguishing factor.

    I mean, fair, if you look to some moral code that is not self-evident, then who knows who might break them.

    Me neither, I am more likely to see secular humanism. The rejection of hypocrisy is just one perspective to look at it through.

    You could just as easily mirror it. Morality isn't going the way you need it to? Just start counting a bunch of irrelevant stuff as immoral.

    You seem to have misunderstood my argument, I'm not saying abuse has increased (and to be fair, I'm not really talking about particularly serious abuse, I'm talking about anything that makes a person make the decision to leave another person, people don't do that on a whim, but it doesn't take assault), I'm saying it has become easier to leave those relationships which are, in various ways, bad. People are well aware that one-parent households are problematic, and they wouldn't go through with the divorce if they didn't think the benefit would outweigh the problems.

    Didn't you say those were the smart people who were managing to think outside the box? Anyone who's unwilling to think will think what they're told, for anyone else, they may change in one direction or another, but religion doesn't seem to be the winning strategy.

    You're allowed to disagree. You're right, you are not allowed to simply ignore the law because you don't agree with it, as with any law. You're allowed to pray on your own, you're allowed to pray in a group separately, you're just not allowed to make that judgment on behalf of other people. It seems to me you could gather everyone who wants to have a prayer separately, and the difference between that and what you want is where I might draw the line.

    I'm not sure where this line of reasoning is going. Greatness in itself is good, but whenever you find labels of greatness handed around, chances are it's more self-serving. Were Catherine the Great, Charlemagne or Alexander the Great paragons of morality?

    Well, I wouldn't personally phrase it in terms of virtue, but my point is that those you call "virtuous" failed to adhere to some virtues. They've either made a mistake in their gaining their virtues, or they've made a mistake in conveying it to others. If a guy in a dark alleyway smiles evilly and promises to get your appendix out pain free, you are justified in doubting that, even if the fact of the matter was that he could do it. It is not your fault that the dodgy surgeon failed to convince you.
    I'm not really sure where this is going, if it is so, my previous point still stands.
     
  7. xwsmithx

    xwsmithx Well-Known Member

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    You missed the first third of my response. And I have to split this response, too.

    Which I offered, race and IQ. You can control for the violence factor of religious people by controlling for race and IQ... if you compare two people with equal IQ's of the same race but different religions or no religion, you eliminate most of the difference in violence. You were suggesting (if I remember correctly) that atheists and nonreligious societies were less violent than religious ones, but if you control for IQ, that difference disappears. It's not that religion spawns violence, but that the most religious and the most violent people both come from the same population. Comparing apples to apples, however, you get the result that those of the same race and similar IQ levels are better behaved if they are regular churchgoers compared to the general population. (A Lutheran woman of my acquaintance was mocking a Unitarian man I knew by telling him her kids were better behaved than his.) The exception seems to be Islam, which promotes violence as part of the religion, but your smarter Muslims will direct the violence rather than carry it out themselves, which is how you get an Osama bin Laden.

    You accused me of making assumptions, but I showed from the data that my statements were not assumptions but backed up by facts. And since the researchers couldn't point to anything else that had the same effect as religion, I'm going to say that their analysis doesn't undermine the statement that it's religion that has the effect.


    Okay, to try to unpack this, let me compare the various situations: 1) Christianity v. secularism. Christianity wins, no question. Promoting Christianity in general does not constitute establishment of a religion. What I mean by that is that by not choosing a state church, Episcopalianism, Presbyterianism, Catholicism, etc., no religion has been established. Promoting secularism, on the other hand, does constitute establishment of a religion, that of irreligion, or nonbelief. It's telling people that the state is choosing irreligion as the favored religious position. 2) Christianity v. Islam. Christianity wins, no question. Promoting any form of Islam, whether it be Sunni, Shia, or Yazidi, is necessarily establishing a religion because the religion itself sees no distinction between the church and the state. There's no line between the two in Islam, so if the state promotes Islam, you are going to have to be Muslim. There's no death penalty in Christianity for apostasy, heresy, atheism, etc. There is in Islam. 3) Christianity v. something else. Here's the only place where you could say that the state could promote a particular religious viewpoint without establishing a religion. Judaism? Sure, you could have the government become officially Jewish without establishing Judaism as a state religion. Buddhism? Sure, you could have the government become officially Buddhist without establishing Buddhism as a state religion. What's the difference? Freedom. You are not required to be Jewish or Buddhist under a Jewish or Buddhist state. You are not required to be Christian under a Christian state. You are required to be Muslim under an Islamic state. You are required to be irreligious under a secular state. Christians are not free today under the rule of secular humanism, which is why there's such a battle over gay rights, gay marriage, Christian bakeries, etc.


    They were also not opposed to the idea of public support of Christianity as being contrary to the establishment clause. That's what I was getting at. They didn't feel oppressed by the frequent and blatant role of religion in public life. Christians today do feel oppressed by the irreligiosity of the state. If the state is not openly promoting irreligiosity over religion, if the public doctrine of neutrality isn't favoring any particular religion over another, why do Christians feel oppressed?

    What you have not shown is whether the Nordic countries are irreligious because the people went in that direction willingly or if they went that way because of the official government position of promoting irreligiosity. Political and cultural elites set standards that the middle classes and, laggingly, the lower classes follow. If the political and cultural elite promote religiosity, the middle classes will follow suit. If the political and cultural elite promote irreligion, the middle classes will follow suit. I agree with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn that the Enlightenment has failed and that a new merger between faith and reason is necessary.
     
  8. xwsmithx

    xwsmithx Well-Known Member

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    I'm not the one changing the definition of morality here, you (and the rest of the secularists) are. In Pat Moynihan's immortal phrase, you're defining deviancy down. It's how we've gone from no-fault divorce to widespread out-of-wedlock births to homosexual marriage to transgenderism. Each step down the deviancy ladder just makes the next step that much easier.

    Secular humanism fails as a moral code because there's no enforcement mechanism, no penalty for failing to uphold it. For the sake of argument, let's say the fundamental moral code of secular humanism is the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Then the question becomes, "Or what?" Religion has a ready answer to that. What's secular humanism's answer? Does secular humanism even have an answer?


    The benefit to whom? That's what I was getting at (I think). We have overemphasized both the individual and the state at the expense of the family and of society. We have made divorce too easy to get, to the cost of the family and children and society. We have made the state the source of all that is good instead of God, society, church, family, friends, etc. As the traditional sources of support dry up, people are left with only the state to look to for their salvation. And the state has encouraged and supported the trend. Too many divorced women with children? Increase the benefits. Church membership on the decline so there's less charity to go around? Increase welfare. At every stage, society has grown weaker while the state has grown more powerful. But a weak society spells its own doom. This is why Europe has some of the lowest birthrates in the world. I don't know if you saw it, but it was a minor news item over here when Bjorn Borg took out a full page ad in a Swedish newspaper saying, "F*ck for the future."


    Again, you're missing the point. Religion is the winning strategy for those who are unwilling or unable to think for themselves. As long as you and I are free to be atheists, the state can be as religious as it wants. The problem is when the state is atheist, people are no longer free to be religious. And for those who are unwilling or unable to think for themselves, an atheist state allows for much greater latitude in ignoring morality.


    I simply want for the American people the same right Congress grants itself... the right to have a public prayer said before whatever it is. Why does Congress get a greater freedom to be religious than the American people? Why does Congress get to open its session with a public prayer but a public high school cannot? Why does Congress get to open with a public prayer but a town council cannot? Why can the Supreme Court of the United States have the Ten Commandments on its walls but the Supreme Court of Alabama cannot? There's a fundamental mismatch between rights and freedoms here between what the government does and what the government allows.


    The examples you gave weren't given the moniker "the great" until after they were dead. The "Greatest Generation" wasn't given the moniker until they were all 65+. Only Muhammed Ali claimed the title of "the greatest", but he went on to back it up. I don't think morality had anything to do with the examples you gave, but patriotism and virtue did in the case of the Greatest Generation. Why were they great? Self-sacrifice, love of country, goodness (every country in Europe invaded by the Americans commented on the fact that American soldiers were unlike the soldiers from any other country, in that rape and pillage were practically unknown), and I'll add faith in God. Our people are still good, numerous examples come to mind, but the virtues of self-sacrifice, love of country, and faith in God have all fallen by the wayside. And no one is going to call our Millennials "the Greatest Generation".

    It has always been true that the elites of the world have preached virtue much more than they practiced it. My point is that preaching virtue by the elites is necessary for a good society, and when the elites fail to preach or practice virtue, that society is destined for trouble.


    The book/author links the decline of virtue to the decline of society. And we have both declining virtue and declining society. Pretending that neither are happening by redefining virtue and/or society doesn't help.

    I think you would agree that barbarous societies are always on the growth side of the equation while civilized societies are always on the declining side of the equation, with civilization relying on superior technology to keep the barbarians at bay. But have you ever asked yourself why that's the case? Why do barbarians expand and attack while civilizations contract and defend? My answer is faith. Barbarous societies have faith, faith in God, Allah, Buddha, whoever, faith in their leaders, faith in their government, faith in their destiny, faith in their rightness. Civilization is characterized by a decided lack of faith. Civilized people and societies lose their faith in God, in their leaders, in their government, in their destiny, in their rightness. And that's what we have today. The "civilized" countries are all characterized by irreligion, self-doubt, self-hatred. They're no longer sure they're the good guys, and in America today, way too many people are convinced we're the bad guys. The "barbarian" countries are all characterized by religious faith, self-assuredness, self-love. They know they are the good guys. And any time a self-doubter meets someone who is self-assured, the latter is going to win every time. The same is true of societies in general. We have lost our faith in ourselves as the good guys.
     
  9. The Wyrd of Gawd

    The Wyrd of Gawd Well-Known Member

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    If you believe in the Jesus character then do what he said and do your damn praying in private. He gets pissed when people don't follow his rules.
     
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  10. xwsmithx

    xwsmithx Well-Known Member

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    I'm atheist, but speaking as a former believer, don't expect me to take the advice of a heathen on how to be a Christian.
     
  11. tecoyah

    tecoyah Well-Known Member Donor

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    I am curious...what does an Atheist pray to?
     
  12. Swensson

    Swensson Devil's advocate

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    I'm still not following why I should take particular note of it. I'm not at all surprised that there are people with differing opinions on the matter.
    I disagree. Without any mention, and no indication that the court steps should hold some mention of true theology, absence doesn't say anything. The absence of mention allows the irreligious to go about their business to the same extent it allows a Hindu (or for that matter a Christian) to go about theirs. I don't agree that absences promote irreligion. For instance, Apples, coke bottles or asphalt don't have Bible quotes on them, but I wouldn't say they promote irreligion.
    That's a different question though. In practice, this is hardly my go-to issue, my arguments are not related to any overwhelming risk of prosecution in Iceland, I'm arguing only that the rule should look as it looks, and be interpreted as it is interpreted (of course, that's not a blanket statement, I'm sure there are details that I disagree with every here and there, but in comparison to your suggestion). The constitution is a good example of the sort of document which I would expect to be written in a way which would be consistent even if situation in the world changes. Again, I would contest your idea that North Korea and China are where a secular America would go, I'd be much more inclined to offer up Scandinavian countries, where Christianity is declining, but hardly prosecuted.
    I mean, fair, in "doing their own thing", I do not include any other breaking of the law. Secularism is not a religion, it is merely some version of not having to do with religion (for instance separation of church and state). It is in particular useful in that it is a framework in which different religions can coexist on equal grounds. Secular humanism, I wouldn't call a religion, but I can see the logic of those who do. Secularism doesn't pander to them, as much as secular humanism sets itself up to fit in the spot that secularism sets up.
    That doesn't seem to me to suggest that the religion of those in office makes a difference, but policies which are quite obtainable without Reagan's religion.
     
  13. xwsmithx

    xwsmithx Well-Known Member

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    I'll wait for the rest of your response before responding to the rest of your post, but I can answer this part immediately.
    But they don't obtain, do they? Something like 90% of atheists/non-religious people are liberals and 8% are libertarians, leaving just 2% of atheists to be conservatives like me. It may not theoretically require someone with Reagan's religion to be tough on crime, but practically speaking, it does.
     
  14. Swensson

    Swensson Devil's advocate

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    You might say that, but of course it means nothing until you can anchor your understanding of deviance in a way that will make sense also to those who reject religion. In so far that these are actual problems, a secular society will agree with them being problems, and is likely to approach solutions to those problems in the same way as religion would. In Sweden, family stability is more of a class thing, and many irreligious couples for stable families.


    I disagree that failure to enforce a morality is a flaw of that morality. The law is not the same as the morality which underpins it. Indeed, you could make the opposite argument, that Christianity is nihilistic, in that it reduces morality to a simple delayed self-serving decision. People are encouraged to do good, not because it's the moral thing to do, but because you get a cookie at the end of it. The failure to enforce morality is an issue, and one that can be addressed in various ways, it is not a failure.


    If those are problems, you are welcome to make those arguments as normal. Indeed, the irreligious are probably more likely to listen to the religious if the arguments are made in tangible forms, rather than with reference to God shoehorned in the middle. It seems to me, going to detour via religion to argue this only includes an additional step which people can reject (and increasingly do).


    If we buy into this line of classifying people, I thought we agreed that the unwilling or unable to think will believe either system, if it is presented to them. They will do just fine with a secular morality. That certainly seems to be the case in Sweden (if I take the liberty of identifying some people I know as unwilling to think).

    There, I agree. I don't see a difference in the logic, the two cases should turn out the same.

    The point stands. I think there are always differences of opinion. Those who manage to attain the moniker "great" tend to be those who silence the opposition rather than those who were great in any objective sense. That's not to say that we should take the Nazi's opinion into account when we ask whether the American generation should be considered "great" (I guess the Nazi's were the opposition to the greatest generation), we should just be careful whether striving for greatness becomes self-serving and kicking down. Again, how does rape-and-pillage statistics compare with soldiers from Scandinavia?


    I don't particularly have a problem with that statement, our issue is not with what to do with morality, but what is to be considered morality, and what is a consistent and persuasive source of that morality.

    I don't know that this argues your point for you. We interact with other nations and we interact with our own societies. Is barbarous self-assuredness really the way we want to go? There are always differences of opinion, and always perspectives other than one's own which we could be better versed in. Barbarous self-assuredness is quite likely to lead to bad things for the people involved.
     
  15. Swensson

    Swensson Devil's advocate

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    Yeah, I'm a bit slow on the writing at the moment. I wouldn't mind if we merge some of the issues, so we can keep track of them better, we seem to have like four different threads of posts now.
    I don't think that's necessarily true. The system in the US (and many other places) forces lots of different ideas into two blocks. Religion and conservatism certainly go hand in hand, but it is not clear to me that conservatism would go away if religion did. Indeed, I sometimes accuse religion of hogging some of the values that could be secular.
     
  16. xwsmithx

    xwsmithx Well-Known Member

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    We might try numbering our paragraphs to reduce word counts, but that means referring back and forth to understand the responses.

    Again, I don't see that as anything but a natural association. In Europe where you frequently have three or four parties instead of just two, only your nationalist parties (considered Nazis by all the politically correct) embrace and endorse conservative values at all. All the other parties, left, right, and center, endorse what in the US would be considered liberal policies. All of Britain's major and minor parties opposed Brexit except UKIP, and were surprised when Brexit won. I think UKIP had all of four seats in the Parliament, so they weren't going to get an MP out of it. So you had the situation of a government forced to figure out a way to enact a policy no one in the government was in favor of. I don't know how many European conservatives are motivated by religion, I couldn't find any hard data, but I suspect a great many of them are.
     
  17. Swensson

    Swensson Devil's advocate

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    Sorry for taking literally months to answer, I've had a hectic time.


    I don't think that's a fair use of the corrections. I reckon there are more factors, including the religiosity of society as a whole. The data you have presented may work on an individual level, but societally, reinforcing religion may reinforce the correlation too. For instance, the amorality of the Soviet union hinged not only on the idea that there is no god, but also the idea that morality could only come from God. Secular humanism hinges on the idea that morality (and the desert of being on the receiving end of morality) is not God-given. It seems to me that societally, reinforcing the God-morality link does more to polarise the violence/crime/sin spectrum than it does to improve morality.


    But they did, or at least they didn't make the assumption that religion was in itself the only source.


    "It’s also possible that the correlation between religion and child development is the other way around, he said. In other words, instead of religion having a positive effect on youth, maybe the parents of only the best behaved children feel comfortable in a religious congregation." (source)

    "Again, the happiness was explained entirely by a boost in close church friendships" (source)

    As you can see, it's not the data I'm contesting, but the conclusions. For instance, the impact of close church friendships suggests an effect that may change if people have a more secular society to live in, where community building isn't hogged by the church.




    You say that by not choosing a state church, no religion has been established. That seems to me absurd. By the logic, you could promote Islam, and get out of all your criticisms against Islam by simply stating that it doesn't qualify as establishing a religion, just because you haven't picked a specific mosque or denomination.

    You are not required to be irreligious in a secular state. There are plenty of Christians whose religiosity is not breaking any laws. Strictly speaking, the requirements on Christians in a secular state are the same as the requirements on Hindus, Muslims, Mormons, Satanists, human-sacrificing religions, etc.. in a secular state, which in turn are same (or better) as the requirements on those same groups in a Christian state.

    This ties into the question you avoided. Do you interpret the first amendment to say that putting the ten commandments on the city hall lawn is allowed? Do you interpret the first amendment to say that putting some representation of Sharia law on the city hall lawn is allowed? (It's the second one I'm interested in, but I might need the answer to the other to make a fair comparison). Do you interpret the first amendment to say that putting some representation of a hypothetical religion, xyzism, on the city hall lawn is allowed?


    Assuming that a quick googling has given me an accurate-enough picture of the faiths of the founding fathers, the main non-Christians seem to have been Thomas Paine and Ethan Allen, who wrote the extracts below.


    "All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit." (source)

    "[...] which can never be completed while we are under the power and tyranny of priests, since as it ever has, it ever will be their interest, to invalidate the law of nature and reason, in order to establish systems incompatible therewith." (source)

    I'm not convinced that these views would have been incorporated in any clause which allows Christianity to be publicly supported (although I do not know if they were consulted and/or listened to in any objections, or if they simply had a different interpretation than you of the relevant clauses, or both).

    I would argue that Christians feel oppressed because their reference point for oppression is different. If the ten commandments were removed from the City Hall steps, then neither Hindus nor Christians would have any monument there, which is clearly the equal state. Christians see the removal as oppression, when it's really a return to the state which is reality to others. Calling it "oppression" is a testament to how out of touch they are with other people for whom it is the undisputed norm. (This is a moderate exaggeration, I don't think that monuments on the City Hall steps are a big deal or a considerable benefit, I'm simply using it as a metaphor)

    I don't think that's something I'm trying to show either. When I bring up Sweden, I'm not making the argument that it is good enough to justify secularism in itself (if I was, you're right, I'd have to show that secularism leads to good, and that certain government policies or actions lead to that). I'm merely saying that concerns like criminality and morality are not enough to reject it.
     
  18. Swensson

    Swensson Devil's advocate

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    I agree, but maybe that just means the idea isn't very strong. Democracy says the ability to get people to vote for an idea is the metric by which we implement them. If you can make conservatism work in a democracy, then go ahead, you should. If you cannot, then so be it. If the only way of making work is tacking it to other stuff which we don't want, then maybe it shouldn't be happening.
     
  19. The Wyrd of Gawd

    The Wyrd of Gawd Well-Known Member

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    The federal courts do not have any jurisdiction over Congressional rules. Each chamber can set its own rules of conduct without any interference from the courts.
     
  20. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Donor

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    What type of prayer, exactly, pray tell, would not be religious??
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
  21. Distraff

    Distraff Well-Known Member

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    I honestly don't understand what Christian religious ceremonial practices are doing in government. Why don't they just spend the time actually getting stuff done instead of engaging in antiquated traditions?
     
    Derideo_Te likes this.
  22. Political Master

    Political Master Newly Registered

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    A prayer is all they got to impeach Trump
     
  23. Derideo_Te

    Derideo_Te Well-Known Member

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    While the term prayer is religious in nature the content does not have to conform to any religion at all.

    Please read the following quotes and tell me where they come from;

    The first quote is from Odysey and it is a non-religious prayer of empowerment.

    https://www.theodysseyonline.com/non-religious-prayer-for-strength-and-empowerment

    The second is from an actual religion.

    https://thesatanictemple.com/pages/tenets

    So it is entirely possible to have a non-religious prayer and to have a prayer where you probably agree with 6 out of 7 of the principles but reject it out of hand because it comes from a religion other than your own.

    IOW's there is no basis for REQUIRING that a prayer MUST be religious NOR that the religion MUST conform to certain beliefs.
     
  24. Distraff

    Distraff Well-Known Member

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    With Republicans in control of the senate, your assessment is accurate.
     
  25. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Donor

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    By definition, it's impossible for an avowed (avout?) atheist to make a prayer, unless it is to a deity he supposedly does not believe in.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019

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