Thompson: Serving God And Government

“We still get our basic rights from God, not government”—this is a phrase that Fred Thompson has been pronouncing a … Continued

“We still get our basic rights from God, not government”—this is a phrase that Fred Thompson has been pronouncing a lot lately. Upon hearing this mantra my first impulse was to pop it into a large file labeled “Unfortunate and Not Entirely Logical Things Politicians Say When Playing the Faith and Values Game.” (Perhaps it should rest next to Joseph Lieberman’s ill-advised 2000 proclamation that “Freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion.”)

Upon deeper reflection, however, it struck me that the remark was, at the very least, quite strategically astute. In less than a dozen words Thompson’s credo manages to assure two key Republican constituencies that he is with them. Conservative Christians, who are not as of yet convinced that he is with them, are clearly his primary target.

On the backstroke, the former senator’s credo is also a gesture to the libertarian component of the GOP. By setting the state against God (an uneven competition if there ever was one) Thompson manages to cut government down to size, so to speak. Upon hearing this, Republicans who value personal freedom and minimal state intervention will be reminded that the former senator from Tennessee has very solid libertarian credentials.

By the standards of political sloganeering that’s pretty good work. But it does call attention to a pretty bad tension among Thompson’s two audiences, if not the Republican Party itself. For the Conservative Christian and libertarian wings of the GOP would appear to be headed on a collision course (see, for example, Ryan Sager’s The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians and the Battle to Control the Republican Party).

Many Evangelical leaders seem hellbent on using the power of the state to regulate and curtail individual liberties. Whatever one might think about outlawing abortion or prohibiting marriage among consenting adults of the same-sex, it is undeniable that such measures constitute a massive imposition of state power upon personal freedom.

The Evangelical embrace of politics and its associated apparatus can also be seen in their burgeoning “foreign policy” interests. On issues like the spread of AIDS in developing nations, eradicating poverty, human sexual trafficking, religious freedom, Conservative Christians have shown themselves to be concerned (and upstanding) global citizens. Of course, these initiatives require statecraft, maximal government intervention, and extensive coordination among nations. Here too the agenda of Conservative Christians clashes thunderously with that of small-government Republicans.

God may indeed trump government for many Americans. But what must be understood is that many Evangelicals, flush with a sense of electoral power, no longer see a contradiction between the two. They have no qualms about using the full force of government to secure what they view as rights given by God.

By Jacques Berlinerblau | 
September 12, 2007; 9:50 AM ET


Save & Share: 

 


 

<!–Twitter
 –>

 


 


 


 


 


 

Previous: Fred Thompson Democrats? |

Next: The Paradox of American Nonbelief

<!–
Main Index –>

  • mulopwepaul

    Curtailing abortion constitues an abridgement of freedom to the same extent that abolishing slavery curtails the freedom of slaveowners. In both cases, the moral outrage central to the act has been rhetorically placed out of sight, and an imagined right or freedom erected in its place which, logically pursued, would in fact abolish any principled basis for both rights and freedoms for all except the most powerful.”As I would not be [aborted], so I would not be a[n abortionist]; this expresses my idea of democracy.”

  • K. S. Wear

    Perhaps Thompson’s mantra should instead rest next to Thomas Jefferson’s 1776 proclamation that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

  • Dennis Murphy

    Why would you think that Mr Thompson’s attribution of God as the source of our basic rights is something “unfortunate” or lacking in logic? Do you not recognize the exact same philosophy expressed in our own Declaration of Independence? Why is that idea now something that makes you wary of its speaker? Your response actually tells me more about you than it does about Mr Thompson.

  • Karen

    Hello, I get my rights from the Constitution and I think any pandering to the Christian right, who wish to overthrow the Constitution and replace it with the Bible are more dangerous to me and to my country than Osama bin Laden.

  • Sunana Batra

    Fred Thompson’s faith in God can only be speculated upon, but what one can judge from his other comments is that in fact he IS a God fearing man. He believes in the sanctity of life in his heart as well as in practice as he has been out-spoken about his view that abortion is the killing of unborn children. He does not sparse his words or tip toe through semantic land mines. He is honest, and he is direct. He believes Roe v. Wade was created from whole cloth and that there is nothing in the Constitution that suggests a woman has the right to end the life of her unborn child.That being said, above all else Fred is a federalist. He places greater power in the hands of individual states. So if you take a state like California, where they seem to outright fond of abortions, if the state chooses to support legalized abortions, then that is the state’s prerogative.I am not a Christian, I am a Hindu, but even I believe Fred has understands that most people of faith have traditional values. Values that do not bend to every whim and trend on a weekly basis, but the values that foster community, family, kindness and acceptance, but also personal responsibility and freedom from the tyranny of the multi-culturist brigade, whose goal is to muddy waters so much that the mere image of the America I was raised in remains but a fleeting memory to my children. These are the values I look for in a Presidential candidate, and Fred possesses these values above all the rest.Sunana Batra

  • mulopwepaul

    “Hello, I get my rights from the Constitution and I think any pandering to the Christian right, who wish to overthrow the Constitution and replace it with the Bible is more dangerous to me and to my country than Osama bin Laden.”The Constitution includes a list of rights which shall not be infringed by the federal government without due cause; it did not create those rights in themselves and cannot offer any principle by which to mediate between those rights or determine their proper boundaries. All fundamentalism collapses on the issue of interpretation, and the constitutional fundamentalism espoused above is no exception.

  • Michael

    President Bush also likes to say that basic rights come from God, not government, but he’s also the first to say that non-citizens can be tortured and deprived of their basic rights as long as it is done at Guantanemo and not on US soil. I suppose the assumption is that God’s jurisdiction stops at the US border.

  • Rich Rosenthal

    When young Jefferson was composing the DOI he was asserting the right of humans, specifically Americans, to challenge the same God given rights of the King(George). Apparently Americans forgot that we were ruled by a King with absolute authority and that authority was from God. Jefferson was trying to short circuit that logic. So the rights endowed by a “creator” was equal, same, and perhaps greater than the rights given to any man to lord over us. These rights also trump institutional powers like church and state. When Jefferson and Madison insisted on inserting a Bill of Rights into the Constitution it was quite deliberate to ensure that the rights of MAN cannot be interpreted away.

  • JohnJ

    The evangelicalism use describe amounts to national power by other means. It represents America’s or at least a certain messianic segment of our population’s desire for world dominion just as Wahabism is an instrument meant to project the Arab reach. As for the “good works” in impoverished countries that they do (not so good, really, in that their works help to keep women constantly pregnant), it always comes with numerous coercive strings attached.

  • skimble

    I eagerly await your post entitled: “Obama: Serving God and Government.”

  • Believer

    There’ve been a couple of comments along the lines of “I get my rights from the Constitution.”The assumption seems to be that our rights are created by the particular legal system of our nation.Do we really believe this? If so, it would mean that another country could legitimately have a legal system that created a completely different set of rights – one that did not include the ones provided by our Constitution. Let’s set aside incidental “rights,” like the “right” to drive an automobile. The consitution protects a number of what are now commonly thought of as fundamental or universal human rights – let’s focus on those. Are there any fundamental rights that are universal, and that must be recognized and protected regardless of the legal system a particular regime might want to put in place? I believe there are (and so, it would seem, do the commentators who criticize Bush’s actions – “I suppose the assumption is that God’s jurisdiction stops at the US border or doesn’t extend to non-citizens”).Where do those rights come from? It can’t be the U.S. Constitution, or they wouldn’t be universal? Perhaps from U.N. declarations? That doesn’t seem right, because then they wouldn’t have existed before the U.N. acted? (And what about nations and entities that aren’t signatories – do those rights not apply within their jurisdictions?)Christians have traditionally understood those universal rights to be derived from the common human nature created by God. Mr. Thompson’s comments are entirely consistent with that understanding (as is the famous declaration that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”)

  • Racho

    I believe that America should be ruled by a committed Christian like Thompson at this time of religious fervor among nations of the World.The institutions of American governemnt should serve to safegurad the interest of persecuted Christians in Islamic/Arabic world.Its time for you,America,to live upto the expectation of your founding fathers who said long time ago “In God we trust”God Bless America!

  • Anonymous

    Religi-phobia is alive and well.

  • denis kiely

    Jacques succinctly points out how Fred, as always, manages to have it both ways. Thompson the politician is, and always has been, nothing more than a shrewdly constructed image.

  • Chagasman

    The Republicans are playing with fire when they pander to the right-wing Evangelicals, who are bound and determined to use the power of government to mold and shape society into the conservative Christian mold. Its theological fascism they seek, not democracy. On the other hand, the religious libertarians are not much better. Their basic philosophy is one of selfishness, a ruthless survival of the fittest strategy that would have us revert to the days of kings and nobles, where only family ties allow you to get ahead. They desire that government do nothing to help its citizens, but it has already been shown that the efforts of faith-based groups and private charities are nowhere enough to relieve the suffering of the poor and uninsured in this country, much less the world.

  • Steve Brak

    The underpinning of the Western concept of individual rights has it’s basics in the writings of British philosophers of the 17th century. Hob and Locke were two of the most prominant examples.

  • boxjam

    “Its time for you,America,to live upto the expectation of your founding fathers who said long time ago “In God we trust””Point of order – Our founding fathers never said that.

  • Patrick

    I guess the moral majority is searching for anyone that even acts like they have religion. SAD.Perhaps the moral majority might quit asking all their politicians to be morally superior to other people and accept that their definition of moral majority is a disparaging attitude towards others that have diferent faith/beliefs than the moral majority that finances killing of doctors that perform abortions, no support for unwanted children, etc..The list of programs the moral majority does not support; social in nature; goes against their basic attitude of family values first.The current group of republicna’s attempting to take the moral high road use hookers, prostitutes, have gay airport sex parties, take part in graft and corruption, have closet gay lifestyles, etc. personally I have always believed the moral majority found a new buzz word that typical racist atitudes can hide behind without comming off as real racist just biased instead. Same results achieved through divisive tactics instead of inclusive tactics.Kinda like the kettle calling the pot black.Patrick

  • Terence

    “On issues like the spread of AIDS in developing nations, eradicating poverty, human sexual trafficking, religious freedom, Conservative Christians have shown themselves to be concerned (and upstanding) global citizens.”As a Christian and a concerned global citizen, -I’d like to inform the readers here of the outbreak of cholera in Iraq. And of greater concern -the spread of ebola in Congo..My church is actively involved in outreach, are you?

  • edwcorey

    “Christians have traditionally understood those universal rights to be derived from the common human nature created by God.”Christian philosophy and behavior owes little to Jesus–not that his philosophy was wrong, but that it is basically ignored–and more to “St.” Paul, who wrote things like “slaves, obey your masters,” and “Women, obey your husbands.” I’m wondering who the puppet master was that was putting words in his mouth, and what “rights” he was handing out at the time, except the right of obedience to someone perceived as superior. As it is, religion is a crock, which is the opinion of Tom Paine, the man whose writings were one of the primary sources–if not THE primary source–of revolutionary fervor, and who delineated the function of government and the rights of human beings. The problem with most religionists is that they view their founding texts as appearing in a vacuum, not as the product of political and economic factors or in historical context. Yet an examination of all these stories reveals repetitions that is the result of limited minds: e.g., 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. Of course, if you’re fasting that long in the desert, if you don’t see god it’s because you’re dead of heat, hunger or exposure. I’ll leave with one example: Every time there’s an advance in Judaic philosophy, it’s after a sojourn in Egypt of some kind: Abraham, Jacob, Moses. Where did the Jews come up with circumcision, their covenant with Yahweh? Egypt, where depictions of circumcision from 4,000 years ago are literally set in stone. According to Herodotus, “the father of history,” all the gods come from Egypt. Even Alexander the Great went there to claim his “godship,” and where did Mary and Joseph flee to when Herod supposedly was killing all the infants in his jurisdiction (an event not mentioned anywhere else in history)? Egypt–where it could be claimed, within the beliefs of the time, that Jesus acquired his godship.

  • K

    I don’t care whether your christian god exists or not, it isn’t the one who impinges on my right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – it’s the GOVERNEMENT that does that, that gives itself the power to do that.Look at the 9th amendment, one of the rights in the bill of rights: “Rights not specifically mentioned in the constitution should not be assumed not to exist”The constitution is an agreement on how we limit that government, it has a great understanding of the nature of power and how humans want to use that power, and takes no little care to arrange for the limitations of that power.Along with this, why are there so many christian churches, denominations, etc? I know that many of these separate groups vehemently disagree over matters of faith and doctrine and just what the rules are. I can think of the southern baptists and the catholics as two groups who fit this description.Do you feel save knowing your government is a christian government? As long as it’s some bland average christianity perhaps?How will you baptists feel if the government starts promoting the catholic view of christianity, or catholics feel if the government starts promoting the baptist view, the Thompmson view or the Scalia view?In your desire to promote general christianity into the government you are NOT giving your denomination the right to power over the government, you are giving the government the right to power over YOU. Why isn’t this clear to the believers, I have to wonder.

  • mulopwepaul

    “Look at the 9th amendment, one of the rights in the bill of rights: ‘Rights not specifically mentioned in the constitution should not be assumed not to exist'”Those reserved rights certainly exist, but they may, just as certainly, be regulated and circumscribed by the legislature of the federal government and the various states–that is in fact one of the unenumerated rights guaranteed by that very amendment.

  • Moses

    Our government gets EVERYTHING from the PEOPLE, just like it’s supposed to. At least that’s the theory. Maybe Fred is going to take power by divine right?

  • mulopwepaul

    “Hence the rights that we speak of were a creation of the ‘social contract’ that we have all entered into.”Except that the Bill of Rights and the Ninth Amendment both contradict this, this would be a plausible argument.

  • Maddie In Florida

    So we elect a Thompson God/government thinking President…then:Whose God do we follow? Mormon, Evangelical, Catholic, Methodist, Fundementalist, Jewish, etcUnfortunately, these Gods are not equal. Oh, I know, let’s settle it with a Crusade or and Inquisition.

  • Russell D.

    Can we settle it with a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors?

  • mulopwepaul

    “The list of programs the moral majority does not support; social in nature; goes against their basic attitude of family values first.”Socialism is hostile to marriage and the family; this was openly conceded by 19th and early 20th century socialists, and remains empirically undeniable despite the more recent efforts of rebranded “progressives” to deny it. The spectacular collapse of the stable, lifetime family and rise of illegitimacy since the New Deal and Great Society are not accidents. To paraphrase a line from the software world: “it’s not a bug; it’s a feature.”

  • Believer

    “The underpinning of the Western concept of individual rights has its basis in the writings of British philosophers of the 17th century. . .One of the central ideas wasn’t that some divine being granted us these rights but that people in an effort to create a better life entered into an agreement with each other to insure that there lives and well being . . . “That’s a fair description of the thinking of Hobbes and Locke, but as has been pointed out, it’s not consistent with “We hold these truths to be self-evident . . . created equal . . . endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights . . .”This distinction is a critical one. If certain human rights derive from a common human nature created by God, then they are truly universal. If, on the other hand, they are simply the result of a “social compact,” then other societies may well choose to enter into a different compact that’s based on an entirely different “deal” between its members – one that may not establish the rights that we find so important.An interesting example along these lines is the recent comment by one of the posters above “Those reserved rights certainly exist, but they may, just as certainly, be regulated and circumscribed by the legislature of the federal government and the various states–that is in fact one of the unenumerated rights guaranteed by that very amendment.” This seems to be a pretty clear statement that our rights are not “unalienable” but may be circumscribed by either federal or state legislative action. The Constitution can be amended.Imagine, if you will, that the “other” political party (whichever one that may be for you personally) were to gain absolute power and repeal the Bill of Rights. This line of reasoning would suggest that those repealed rights would no longer exist – in other words, they are “alienable” by constitutional amendment. The more traditional view – that they derive from a common humanity created by God – would be that the rights would still be ours, even though they might not be recognized by the government at the time. This is the view articulated by the Declaration of Independence, and why it was so radical at the time (and, based on the discussion above, may well still be). We have those rights because we are people created equal by God. Government may choose not to recognize those rights, but they cannot take them away from us.

  • candide

    When are Americans going to get over the delusion that they are God’s special favorites and that the United States was part of God’s plan? This delusion has been shared by many, including Hitler. When the Founders wrote : we hold these truths to be self-evident, “self-evident” meant unprovable.

  • cmo3p

    So let’s see – the Republican frontrunners are a lapsed Catholic, a Mormon, and a guy who doesn’t attend church regularly and says he doesn’t want to talk about religion on the stump. I think 2008 is shaping up to be a banner year for religio-political realignment

  • Michael

    I find the entire concept that our government’s Bill of Rights to be from the Bible at best a spurious argument. Primarily because when one reads the Bible, instead of personal liberties one tends to find more a judgmental god, one who until the New Testament, would prefer to smite someone as much as look at them. I firmly believe that this concept is more a modern one than one that is based in fact as the man who crafted this was a Deist–a much different belief system from modern Christianity–and wasn’t all that keen on the church or it’s teachings.

  • Robert B.

    To Candide –Who wrote, “When the Founders wrote : we hold these truths to be self-evident, “self-evident” meant unprovable.”I beg to differ. When a proposition is said to be self-evident, it means that all the evidence one needs to prove said proposition lies within the proposition itself. In the case of the Declaration’s truths, Jefferson meant that our being human was proof enough that we possessed the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.I often wonder whether the members of the Second Continental Congress paid much attention to this opening statement. As I understand it, they focused much more attention on the list of crimes perpetrated by George III.

  • K

    Sorry Believer, but … let’s quote:The declaration of independence is not the constitution. It is however an assertion of the reasoning behind the rights in the constitution.Look at the words in that quote: “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the CONSENT of the governed”. It says absolutely nothing about any creator or any outside force other than we the people ourselves in the institut-ing of this government.Any government that can give you rights can take them away. Any large enough power block can take over the three branches of government and alter the implementation of the self-evident truths. I can’t think of a better example than that our ancestors, forebearers rather, were able to mix these stated rights with the enslavement of millions of people. How can this be? Women didn’t get the vote until early last century, how can this be?The various religious powers at the time were both supporting slavery (slavery, old testament, remember?) while other religious powers were fighting it with all their might.If we let one currently powerful religous power take over, what will happen to those of us who are not in that group> It seems our government is perfectly capable of crapping on the rights of those it doesn’t consider are “really people”, does it?

  • Believer

    Interesting comments, K.I’d note a couple of things.First, the rights are described as unalienable and endowed by the Creator. They aren’t given by the government – in fact, the argument is the exact opposite. Whenever a government becomes destructive to these rights, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish that government.Second, it’s the powers of the government that are established by the consent of the governed – not their unalienable rights. What does that mean? We can consent to a government that has the power to establish a postal monopoly – or consent to form one that doesn’t have that power. We can consent to a government that has the power to compel military service – or consent to one that does not. But, while we might create a government that does not recognize the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (recent history provides far too many exampls of such), by doing so we cannot abolish those fundamental human rights.The only sure defense against a government “crapping on” the rights of some people is to recognize that some basic rights are the universal heritage of every human on the planet – regardless of what the current government in power may say. When we get down to the fundamentals of human dignity, governments recognize rights or violate them, but they don’t create them. We recognize this every day when we say that this government violates the right to free speach, or that one violates the right to religious freedom. Else, why the outrage over our history of slavery? We’re outraged because every person, of whatever race, has the right to freedom, and that right was unjustly denied many Africans in our country. Or do you really think that right is created by goverment, based on a social compact, and would simply not exist under a different social compact?I don’t. Government does not have the power to change the fundamental rights and dignity due us as indivuals. Those are universal, and grounded in our common humanity as created by God. What we have – and what the Declaration claims – is the power to reform or replace any goverment that does not recognize those rights.

  • Garak

    Freedom of religion is impossible in a society deriving its rights from any god. No god, especially the judeo-christian-islamic god, could tolerate religious freedom, the freedom to believe in a false god, the freedom to deny god. The First Amendment is all the proof we need that Thompson is dead wrong.As a legal matter, we derive our freedoms from the Constitution, which, as we all know, fails to even mention any god. As a philosophical matter, the concept of personal freedoms we employ are a creation of the Enlightenment, which most certainly was not in any way divine.Further, since god does not exist, we cannot have any freedoms if this imaginary creature is the source of our freedoms. For Thompson to be correct, we must accept the existence of god. Too many people, especially our Founding Fathers and the philosophers who inspired them, were atheists, agnostics, or mere deists.

  • Demos

    “No god, especially the judeo-christian-islamic god, could tolerate religious freedom, the freedom to believe in a false god, the freedom to deny god.”But that’s exactly what the God of the New Testament is described as providing. There’s no coercion, just an invitation. Of course, rejecting God has consequences (just as there would be consequences if my daughter were to run away from home this evening). But Christianity, as described in the New Testament and as traditionally understood by theologians, presupposes that individuals have free will and the opportunity to choose. That choice – to accept or reject God – is an important one, with eternal consequences. But it is a real choice. Coerced faith is not faith at all, and is valueless.

  • Believer

    “As a philosophical matter, the concept of personal freedoms we employ are a creation of the Enlightenment, which most certainly was not in any way divine.”Another interesting comment – but it doesn’t go far enough. What are those freedoms grounded in? If it’s the “consent of the governed” or the “social compact,” then they are not necessarily universal, and can be changed from one society to the next. Even more – we could change them. We could repeal the right to free speach, for instance.(If we were to pass a constitutional amendment repealing the legal protection of the right to free speach, would that right no longer exist for American citizens? If the repeal were done in a fair and legal manner, would eliminating that right be just?)Are our fundamental rights and freedoms grounded in something common in our human nature? I believe so. The next question is, given that all humans share certain needs and characteristics, so what? How does that generate a morally binding “right” to respect their freedom in certain areas? Belief in a divine creator, as appealed to in the Declaration, provides one answer to that question.

  • sm

    None of us get our rights from the Constitution. Adams, Jefferson and Madison declared absolute truth with a few short words included in the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution and proclaimed succinctly that governments get its right to exist from us.Individuals have certain inalienable rights that are wholly and absolutely independent of any government or Being. Society is a plurality of such individuals called the “People”. Thus:“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”The real issue is the continual quest by individuals to determine and safeguard those inalienable rights from the onslaught of government infringement. That is the real American experience!

  • BGone

    Believer:The word believer by itself is meaningless. What do you believe? How sure are you? Have you ever considered the possibility that you are wrong? An overwhelming majority believed in Hitler. In the words of your president, they should have been “more careful” about what they believed.Was that really almighty God in the burning bush? How sure are you? Is Allah God? Why does Allah need people to get what HE wants? Does your God need people to get what HE wants? Your God is almighty? Was the being in the burning bush, the God Moses made the deal with almighty? Maybe there’s almighty Gods and then there’s Gods that aren’t so mighty? Which is yours, almighty or dose IT need people to get what IT wants?Again, be “more careful” for the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Getting to heaven being the loftiest of intentions. Only Devil would lie and say HE was God. You’re not a Devil worshiper thinking you’re worshiping God? Are you sure? How sure are you?Those that buy Devil’s lies are likely to buy the lies of politicians. Vote the abortion issue and get an abortion for a government. Is Thompson really against abortion or is he just lying to get your support?

  • Aquagirl

    “Christians have traditionally understood those universal rights to be derived from the common human nature created by God.”Christians have believed in god for 2000 years, while the concept of human rights has been around for only about 1/10 that long. So, there is no Christian “tradition” of universal rights being endowed by god. Some human rights, such as those accorded to slaves and women, were actively opposed by Christians on religious grounds for many years (and still are today). Your formulation also proves nothing about god–you say universal rights come from common human nature, which you say comes from god. But if common human nature comes from something else, say evolution, the result is the same.

  • K

    Some more word-twiddling I suppose, but here I go again. “We hold these truths to be self-evident”, is an assertion, not a proof. It is a premise that is assumed, “held” to be true.Jefferson certainly knew his propositional logic.And the creator to which he refers, why do you think it was the christian god as opposed to any other? Because most of the founding fathers were christian, is that reason enough, or is it seeing what you want to see in the history?We can’t know what was in his mind, but we can read the words he left us. Is there anybody here who thinks Jefferson was a Christian?my, my.

  • Anonymous

    “We still get our basic rights from God, not government”B.S. We get out basic rights from beheading the occasional tryant. Something the G.O.P would do well to remember.

  • Gerry

    May I remind everybody that every German soldier under Nazi rule had “God with us” etched on their belt buckles? The whole “in god we trust”, “Gott mit uns”, “under god”, “Allah akbar” etc. is one big fraud, and can be judged only as a more or less political scheme – which it has been from its beginning.

  • vklip

    Oh, for pete’s sake. K says: “Look at the 9th amendment, one of the rights in the bill of rights: “Rights not specifically mentioned in the constitution should not be assumed not to exist”.” If you are going to cite the 9th Amendment, why not just quote it – it’s short enough. Amendment IX: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. ” and then there is Amendment X: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

  • Michael Eure

    Not that I don’t believe God has a part in our destiny, but politicians shouldn’t have religion in their mouths all the time. Most of them couldn’t even give you the definition for the word. It comes from the Latin root meaning “to connect”.

  • Bryson Hughes

    American government was founded on the concept of God given rights and the right of the people to form Governements to secure those rights. Are you American or an overseas correspondant? Maybe that would explain how you utterly miss the fact that your complaint about Government being used to secure God given rights, is what American started with.

  • Jeff

    In the United States, our rights derive from the Constitution, not from God. Jefferson, Madison, and other founders of our laws clearly believed in the separation of religion and government- and for good reason. Who is to decide who’s religious beliefs should dictate our rights? Fred Thompson? I hope not! You have to have a rule of law to protect the civil rights of the minority- that’s what our Bill of Rights is all about. Fred Thompson should understand that, but he apparently does not. In my opinion, that’s not a quality we need in a presidential candidate.

  • Anonymous

    “The assumption seems to be that our rights are created by the particular legal system of our nation.Do we really believe this? If so, it would mean that another country could legitimately have a legal system that created a completely different set of rights – one that did not include the ones provided by our Constitution.”

  • Chris Newell

    The trouble is that most Evangelicals don’t know much about the bible or ignore the parts they don’t like. They select the parts they agree with and use them to attack people they don’t like.Have you ever heard an Evangelical refer to Exodus 21:22? This clearly states whilst causing the death of a pregnant woman is murder, the loss of an unborn child is a purely a civil matter for which compensation should be paid to the woman’s husband. This completely undermines their arguments about abortion so they ignore it.

  • Anonymous

    Jefferson’s comment was right on for me. We are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. I am an athiest, and according to my beliefs, our Creator is evolution and natural processes, in short, the Earth. I believe that there are some rights given to us as natural rights that have nothing whatsoever to do with God.

  • Not a Religious Nut

    I have always thought that the folks who try their best to make government into a tool for their religious beliefs are the same folks who are total failures at getting anyone to subscribe to their brand of religion. They have this cocksure attitude and trade faith for false knowledge. Then they spout this false knowledge to all as if there is no other truth to be had. So much arrogance! If their brand of religion was the ultimate knowledge and truth, I would think more people would beat a path to their door. Last I looked though, people weren’t. I am thankful that our founding fathers had the good sense to keep organized religion at a very long arm’s length from government.

  • Believer

    “The word believer by itself is meaningless. What do you believe? How sure are you? Have you ever considered the possibility that you are wrong? An overwhelming majority believed in Hitler. In the words of your president, they should have been “more careful” about what they believed.”BGONE, I think I understand what you’re trying to say here, but I’d suggest that you think it through a bit more carefully.First, the word “believer” isn’t meaningless – you can find a definition in any English language dictionary. It does, of course, imply a belief in something particular. In this particular context, I’m using it simply as a blog handle, expecting that other readers of the blog will understand that I am someone with religious beliefs (and from my posts, they’ll gather that those beliefs are fairly traditional Christian ones).What do I believe? I’ve covered it in other “On Faith” discussions, but in a nutshell my theological beliefs are fairly traditional Christian ones.How sure am I? Pretty sure – otherwise I wouldn’t have shaped my life based on those beliefs.Have I ever considered that I might be wrong? Of course – I’ve spent a lot of time studying the basis of my beliefs, the evidence for and against Christianity, as well as most of the other primary world religions. Science has always been one of my interests (my formal education is in mathematics rather than the physical sciences, but hey – the mindset is similar); recently, I’ve been particularly intrigued by the new applications of genetics to the study of human history.So yes – I’ve considered that I might be wrong. Have you ever seriously considered whether thoughtful Christians (or Jews, or Muslims, or Buddhists, or Daosts) might be right?”Which is yours, almighty or dose IT need people to get what IT wants?”Almighty. The childish, anthopomorphic view of “gods” that literally feed off of the sacrifices prvided by their worshippers and require them to survive went out with the Epic of Gilgamesh. You won’t find that in any of the world’s great religions.”You’re not a Devil worshiper thinking you’re worshiping God? Are you sure? How sure are you?”Again, pretty sure. Your point is deeper than you imagine – what we choose to worship is an incredibly important decision. People worship and devote their lives to many things: God, Allah, an ideology, a political system, money, pleasure, power (and more than we often realize, themselves). This choice, and our image of the “god” we worship, shapes our lives and our destinies. If you take religion seriously, you give a great deal of time and attention to understanding who God is, and what He wants for His people. My God wants everyone to have a relationship with Him, and calls us to a very high standard of personal ethics and morality. Let me turn your question around – if the “devil” that I worshiped were to demand that his followers live moral, ethical, responsible and holy lives, would he really be a devil?”Those that buy Devil’s lies are likely to buy the lies of politicians. Vote the abortion issue and get an abortion for a government. Is Thompson really against abortion or is he just lying to get your support?”Which particular “Devil’s” lie are you suggesting that I have bought? And when did I say that I supported Thompson? You have some clever plays on words here, but that’s really all they are. (I can see how a government might be aborted, for instance, in a parliamentary system where the winner of an election were unable to successfully form a government. But how exactly is a government an “abortion?” Basically, you’ve just picked a clever sounding insult, rather than saying something more crass like “I think this government is a load of . . . “)”So, there is no Christian “tradition” of universal rights being endowed by god.” This isn’t true – there’s a long tradition that follows the Apostle Paul’s statement that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female. That doesn’t mean that the cultural, legal and physical differences don’t exist – a quick check will verify that men and women still exist, and their bodies are physically different. What it does very clearly teach is that we are all equal before God. Yes, that has been forgotten, violated, and distorted by many Christians – but it’s there, and it goes back to the very roots of Christianity.”Yes, we really do believe that “rights” are set by the law. I’m not saying, however, that all laws, and all legal systems are equally good. But “rights” are set by the law- and they should be. You can’t have people denying or curtailing important rights based on their personal religious beliefs- that is unfair to those who don’t share those beliefs. And it curtails freedom of religion. So, yes, rights must be set by law.”Then you’re left with nothing to say when you face a society that denies or curtails fundamental human rights for some reason other than religioun (such as a fundamentally different political ideology) other than “I don’t like your laws.”Rights must be protected by law, but those core rights that we consider universal are not universal because of a universal law or constitution – if they are truly universal (as I believe they are), then it must be for some other reason. What’s your understanding? Are those rights not universal? If I live in, say North Korea, can I not legitimately complain that I have a right to free speach that’s being violated by my government? Or, if I live in Saudi Arabia, can I not legitimately complain that I have a right to the free exercise of religioun that’s being violated?If not, we simply don’t agree. I am firmly convinced that our common humanity gives us a certain fundamental rights and dignity.If you do believe certain fundamental rights are truly universal, what’s the basis for those rights? It can’t be the constitution or legal system of any particular national or institution.”Have you ever heard an Evangelical refer to Exodus 21:22? This clearly states whilst causing the death of a pregnant woman is murder, the loss of an unborn child is a purely a civil matter for which compensation should be paid to the woman’s husband. This completely undermines their arguments about abortion so they ignore it.”This is way off point. While you’ll hear Christians point to this verse, among others, to illustrate that God has consistently valued the unborn, you’ll never hear them suggest that the particular laws given for the nation of Israel be adopted in the U.S. (unlike Islam, where many will push for modern nations to adopt Sharia). Further, the distinction between civil and criminal law that you’re trying to make didn’t exist in the Mosaic law. Prison wasn’t an option, so monetary fines were used for many offenses that would be punished by prison terms today. (That was typical of many early legal systems; maintaining prisons simply wasn’t practical.)

  • TruthSayer

    As to Chris Newell’s comment: “Have you ever heard an Evangelical refer to Exodus 21:22? This clearly states whilst causing the death of a pregnant woman is murder, the loss of an unborn child is a purely a civil matter for which compensation should be paid to the woman’s husband. This completely undermines their arguments about abortion so they ignore it.”Please read the verse again, for it looks like you missed some sentences. The verse is quoted below.As you see, if the child is aborted/murdered, than this law requires the LIFE of the MURDERER, not a compensation, which totally refutes your post stating it’s a civil matter. For as the verse shows us, the man’s life is required as payment for the aborted baby.ps — I’m not an evangelical, just a Bible believer.

  • vklip

    Believer says: “Rights must be protected by law, but those core rights that we consider universal are not universal because of a universal law or constitution – if they are truly universal (as I believe they are), then it must be for some other reason. No, in fact, there are no “universal” rights. You do not have a right to free speech in North Korea, nor a right to free exercise of religion in Saudi Arabia. Laws are made by governments, and it is laws that control “rights”. I agree with the poster who pointed out that at the time the Declaration of Independence was written, the “divine right of kings” was what gave King George his power; it is very likely that the writers were trying to offset the king’s divine right with creator granted rights to all people. I wasn’t there and don’t know. There are, however, sufficient writings to strongly show that the founders, among them Jefferson, believed very strongly that government should not control religion and religion should not form the basis for government.

  • TruthSayer

    One thing that must be said about this religious right, that seems not to be understood by them, is that Jesus NEVER got involved with politics. He stayed away from it because that’s not the way Christianity was to be. Matthew 22:21 “They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to GOD the things that are GOD’s.”” See, Jesus did not go campaigning to the local government to implement His beliefs. It was an individual decision to be made by each person, and spread by His disciples, not the governor or king or any political structure. Acts 16:17 “This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.””What the religious right does not understand is that God is “GOD”, He does not need there little electorate to influence the course of saving this planet. Everytime you read the Bible, it states that GOD is the one who does the saving, and giving SALVATION to this world, not the SINFUL MAN.Acts 4:12 “Nor is there salvation in any other (that being Jesus), for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.””When reading the Bible you see nothing about MAN fighting some religious battle to HELP GOD achieve SALVATION for this world. I mean think about it; Why would God/Jesus let Himself DIE so that 2000 years later, so called CHRISTIANS can FORCE people to be saved. Jesus’s way was not to use the force of GOVERNMENT, but it was a choice presented to everyone, but not by force. So much so, that Jesus SURRENDERED His life for us. Just like the people of Jesus day were FOOLED to think that JESUS would use FORCE and establish a government to rule on earth, these religious right people are being fooled too. Peter and the disciples wanted Jesus to setup rulership on this earth, the religious right want the same. When Jesus spoke to His followers He instructed them not to use force, so much so that they could possibly lose their life. Jesus’s way was passive, not one of FORCE, using the government.

  • Believer

    VKLIP,You say that, “No, in fact, there are no “universal” rights.”Thank you for speaking so clearly on this issue. I do strongly disagree with you. This seems to me a far too purely utilitarian position. If one could prove (or were a particular country to believe) that a society that dealt with bankruptcy by selling debtors into slavery, and that suppressed free speach and religion would be more econonomically and politically successful, and such an approach were adopted through legal means, then it would leave us with no basis for objecting. It would also leave dissenting citizens of that society, including those falling into slavery, with no moral argument against it – their only recourse would be personal preference, or arguments than another approach might be more effective.You’re afraid of a theocracy – I’m equally afraid of secular totalitarianism. The Taliban was murderous and oppressive – so was Stalin. Neither secularism nor atheism are any guarantee of freedom.To be clear, I have no desire for a theocracy – have you ever heard me suggest otherwise? I strongly suspect that Mr. Thompson has no desire for a theocracy either. If anything, I would ground the right to free speach and freedom of religion in something even more fundamental than the Bill of Rights – as would the writers of the Declaration of Independence. I am convinced that those rights are the inalienable birthright of all men and women.A firm conviction that there are universal human rights that are grounded in our common human nature, as created by God, in no way implies that we should seek, as you put it, “to enforce or attempt to enforce any particular religious perspective.” Is there anything that I have said, or Mr. Thompson has said, that suggests to you otherwise?Given that we share a belief in God, I would ask this? If we are all created by God, doesn’t that at least on a moral level imply that we share equal moral dignity? Again, morally, don’t we share an equal moral responsibility to choose how we will live? And more directly, don’t we all have an equal right to seek God? It seems to me that if you are convinced that God, as described in the New Testament, created people and wants them to seek and serve them, it’s impossible to argue that we don’t all have a least a moral right to free exercise of religion (even though it may be honored more in the breach than in the observance).

  • Demos

    “Truthsayer,” I’ve got to ask – what’s up with your posts? Does your shift key randomly lock up on you? (Or do you just enjoy metaphorically yelling at people?)

  • Hot Irony

    “We still get our basic rights from Allah, not government”- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

  • IConrad

    Speaking as a libertarian (“Big L” to be precise), I can tell you that I have yet to meet a libertarian whom is fooled by this sort of thing. Conservative Evangelicals are the //enemy// of libertarianism, not an ally. Besides — Ron Paul already has the GOP’s “libertarian” vote securely attached to himself. At this point — if you’re bringing god into the political arena, then you’re not promoting freedom. The “Religious Right” has made this the case by forcing the issue.

  • Believer

    ICONRAD,your passion is admirable, but who are you really fighting. I have no desire to restrict religious liberty in this country. Have any of my comments suggested otherwise? I don’t believe anyone else in this discussion who has argued that basic human rights ultimate derive their moral authority from God has suggested curtailing the right to free exercise of religion (though several who don’t take this view have argued that rights are not universal, and we only have those rights that are granted by our legal system). I’m pretty sure that neither Mr. Thompson, nor any other serious presidential candidate, has suggested undoing the Bill of Rights.What is it that you feel threatened by? The idea that someone would feel that our rights are not just backed up by the Constitution, but that God demands we honor them as well? Do you honestly believe that’s going to make someone LESS likely to protect them?It seems to me that you’re coming dangerously close to censoring the political debate yourself. If you don’t agree with Mr. Thompson’s views, handle it the same way you’d handle a disagreement over free trade versus protectionism – join the debate on the merits, and win. It’s unfair and cowardly to simply insist “we shouldn’t even let people talk about ideas like that in this country.”

  • Fred Evil

    Our rights are guaranteed by the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.I have yet to have Jesus keep me from being mugged, or catching a disease. But my government does the best it can to help me in either instance.Why should I expect my rights to be provided/protected by an entity whose existence cannot be proven? I don’t see those rights being protected in Darfur, or Iraq, or Russia, much less on our streets by God.Only in America, and only by our GOVERNMENT.

  • Garak

    Demos: The god of the Old Testament is a jealous god. Jealous enough to kill those who reject him. And christianity says the Old Testament is still valid, at least as I understand it. And regardless of what the New Testament say, look at the actions of christians. As soon as they took over the Roman Empire, they banned all other religions. Made practicing them a capital offense. Judaism and Islam are the same. Regardless of what contradictory messages are in their scriptures, in practice they are highly exclusivist religions. It is this exclusivity that enables their followers to kill others with a clear conscience. They are against god, they will go to hell anyways, so let’s just hurry things a bit.Believer: But you assume that we can only get rights from a social compact or from god. I say we have rights as sentient human beings, not because of some god. We enter into a social compact to create a society in which we can live. That compact may have to address certain rights, as our Constitution does. If we were to decide that god does not like free speech, would we repeal the First Amendment? If we were to do so in constitutionally correct manner, would that right cease to exist? Remember that before 1789, most, if not all, the colonies made blasphemy a crime. All 3 judeo-christian-ilamic religions follow this. Were we to accept this god as the source of our rights, blasphemy would still be a crime. I think Scalia believes this, but I doubt the Supreme Court would agree.

  • RDP

    MULOPWEPAUL:To suggest that the strong structures of the family have dissolved because of socialism is absurd. Having lived in France–one of the most socialist countries you can find–for many years, I can tell you that the family is much stronger there than here. They may “marry” less frequently than we do, but common law marriages are abundant and are seen as just as valid as religious ones.I would argue that the family structure has weakened in this country because of

  • dangerosa

    Recent books by Dawkins and Hitchens have emphasized the dangers that religion can provoke. In fact, prisons are now ridding their libraries of faith-inspired tracts that might spur extremists of any faith to become fanatics.My own beliefs, at this time, are inspired by Spinoza, who, in turn, was a tremendous influence upon Einstein. The God (or Goddess) of Science may one day lead civilization out of the present chaotic darkness into the light. Hope, at this time, is a candle dimmed – but not yet extinguished.

  • ka_albion

    So, Jack…

  • value system

    An Anonymous writer coined the term “religi-phobia” earlier in this blog. Does he refer to the millions of people persecuted, raped and murdered by religious zealots throughout history, culminating with this present group of iconoclasts? I damn certainly am terrified of these thugs. They operate well outside the rrealm of rational thought.

  • rpa

    Religion is a personal matter and has no place in government in a secular nation like the US. If you want to believe the world is flat and base all your actions on this belief, go ahead but don’t impose such a foolish notion on the rest of us. The greatest danger we face as a secular society is having religious views imposed upon us regardless of the source, Islam or Christianity.

  • mulopwepaul

    “Having lived in France–one of the most socialist countries you can find–for many years, I can tell you that the family is much stronger there than here. …They may “marry” less frequently than we do, but common law marriages are abundant and are seen as just as valid as religious ones.”But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?If it were uncompassionate capitalism at fault, why is that the more government programs were launched, the higher illegitimacy and single-parent households climbed? Is it seriously your contention that American capitalism is harsher now than in the days of Rockefeller and the Trusts?

  • Brent Mack

    Yeah, it was precisely these religious nuts who twice voted for Bush and directly brought on the decline of America.Don’t believe it? Just read today’s headlines. Then you can scroll back and learn about the disastrous last six years that the wackos have made possible.The fact of the matter is – they’re really not Americans. They long for the dictatorship that Bush is working overtime to deliver.They need to get out of politics and back into the church pews – lest they end up meeting Jerry Falwell in Hell.

  • Brent Mack

    Yeah, it was precisely these religious nuts who twice voted for Bush and directly brought on the decline of America.Don’t believe it? Just read today’s headlines. Then you can scroll back and learn about the disastrous last six years that the wackos have made possible.The fact of the matter is – they’re really not Americans. They long for the dictatorship that Bush is working overtime to deliver.They need to get out of politics and back into the church pews – lest they end up meeting Jerry Falwell in Hell.

  • Wazir Ahmad Jogezai

    First amendment to the American Constitution must be read in to-days situation and those high thoughts ofbe read.To create politics using GOD is only 3rd world tool.

  • Mary

    The one cnadidate that can bring religous America and secular America together. Watch the most important speech on religon and politics in 40 years.

  • mulopwepaul

    “The one cnadidate that can bring religous America and secular America together. Watch the most important speech on religon and politics in 40 years.”Yawn. Obama can bring religious liberals back together with secular liberals; that is all.There’s not one policy position Obama actively backs which is not supported by the left wing of the party, no matter how much they gnash their teeth at his religious references.

  • Tom

    Of course nonbelievers must take religion seriously. Those are the people who kill us because Their Cause is Just!

  • Tom

    Actually, I find it hilarious that a “sophisticated” newspaper like the Washington Post is publishing this garbage just because the Publisher’s wife is a religious loony.

  • Richard

    Sunana Batra writes I think Sunana Batra is wrong when he says “most people of faith have traditional values” I think most people have their own beliefs about what is traditional. What kind of person believes it’s wrong to kill something unborn but it’s okay to torture another human being? Does his God think that is okay? I believe my God is saddened when he sees that! Why does Sunana Batra think we initiated something called the Geneva Convention? He should read it, I know John McCain has!

  • Richard

    Sunana Batra writes I think Sunana Batra is wrong when he says “most people of faith have traditional values” I think most people have their own beliefs about what is traditional. What kind of person believes it’s wrong to kill something unborn but it’s okay to torture another human being? Does his God think that is okay? I believe my God is saddened when he sees that! Why does Sunana Batra think we initiated something called the Geneva Convention? He should read it, I know John McCain has!

  • Steve

    Those of us who consider extremist christians to be both a national and a personal danger, rest assured that any such attempts to turn this government into a brainless theocracy will be resisted as violently as the attempt is to impose it.In terms of “outstanding citizens” concerning human social issues, it’s to laugh that right-wing christian give a damn. As they say, these folks “love ’em until they’re born.” Other than that, their main concern seems to be starting wars and saluting the flag in sickening displays of brainwashed jingoism, like the right’s continuing support of our Worst. President. Ever., George Bush. Their opposition to social spending but support of massive military spending puts this group near the fascist end of the political spectrum, along with their buddies like Cheney.We’re not going back to medieval times. The reign of the religious terrorist in American politics is coming to an end.

  • Andy

    Great. Now somebody please tell me whose God and what rights come from that God that everyone is subject to? And who is the final authority that supposedly speaks for God to enforce whatever rights that God has supposdely given to everyone? I am sure the Creator has given human beings many rights but is that same Creator forcing anyone to believe any one way or has that Creator appoitned anyone to force anyone to believe or act in any certain way?The Bible if I am not mistaken talks more about responsibilities than rights and I have yet to see any conservative model of responsible behavior so that Democracy (man-made institution) can survive. Beware anyone who has flag in one hand and faith in the other or anyone who tries to enforce faith with a flag or flag with faith. It never worked and will never work if individual freedoms are what matters. Theocracy or Democracy? You can’t have it both ways.

  • Andy

    Anyone who talks about of how their version of God should somehow trump or dominate in the market place is not necessarily interested in Decomcracy but using democratic means for one ideology to dominate. History has shown what has happened when these kind of control freaks were in charge both in militantly atheistic countries and militantly religious countries. The balance can easily tip if any kind of extreme zealtory is not held in check. So it is in your best interest to make sure Democracy is not diluted with religiosity of any kind.

  • phillip jarvis

    Our basic rights do come from God, but here on earth,it seems that only good government has the ability to guarentee those rigths.

  • Mark Gary Blumenthal, MD, MPH

    Thompson is a politician. He wants to be nominated and elected to the Presidency, and he can sling bull with the best of them. His comments are a political dodge. To cite Amendment I to the Constitution of the United States:”Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”In this context, I state as an observant Jew that if it was good enough for the Founders, it’s good enough for me. Only a zealot conflates religion with politics and government. My stomach curdles every time I consider the domestic and foreign policy decline of our great country since Shrub, a zealot who surrounds himself with zealots, assumed office.

  • Thanasy Bailey

    I continue to protest against calling Evanglicals “conservative” Christians, seeing that they are at the opposite extreme of Greek Orthodox Christians, who retain the original paradigm. If they are called “politically”

  • Billy Bob

    Let me say that despite being a soft agnostic (ie I believe in some sort or sorts of otherworldly deistic being(s) but dont subscribe to any one faith) have nothing against christianity or any established religions. I think the commandments barring adultery, lying, murder, coveting, and honour of your parents are all around strong laws and morals that can be applicable to any society secular or otherwise. However, I am very wary of just throwing in religion into the already muddled secular tradition of government. Unfortunetly, there is no one way to interpret what is written in the bible or any scriptures, thus we have so many denomonations and divisions, right?The invoking of (an overtly) religious mindset can complicate matters. Divisions and discourse can become more heated. By focusing on deeply divisible issues, we can lose sight on issuses that are easily remidable with cooperation and trust.What is more scary is people (well intentioned or not) using God’s law/will/whathaveyou to justify anything they so please. And if certain laws are in place, older laws that would ban certain practices (xenophobia, discrimination, violence) will become irrelevant, or at worse sacreligious blasphemy.To resort to that, smacks of the idea of divine rule of monarchs from times past, which the west has worked to eradicate and create a more fair and balanced system. What’s God’s will/teachings is blasphemy and a crime to the next. And to unilaterly act on such motives with potentially disregarding discourse and tolerance could set us back many a century in terms of liberty, justice and peace for all people.Not all but a considerable amount of Americans are unaware of the differences between us and people around the world. Not the least of which on matters of considerable complexities, such as history, culture and foriegn faiths/beliefs.My summation, I cannot deny that this is a country of proffesed god-fearing/believeing men and women, but I fear the justification of war,discriimination and instablity in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and his father in heaven. Let’s keep our heads together and avert thatFor those who believe: May God(s) bless America and the WorldFor others: May Fortune and Luck shine on bothFor all: Peace

  • Billy Bob

    To make a correction, I meant to writeWhat’s God’s will to one is blasphemy to the next.

  • Will Jones

    Much of the Religious Right in America is allied with the power and plans of the Roman Catholic Church…which America’s Founder determined, in his letter to Samuel Kercheval, January 19, 1810, to be “the real Anti-Christ.” The transparent treason of 9-11 and subsequent false war of the homosexual draft-dodger appointed by the Roman Catholic bloc of the Supreme Court, in the patently unconstitutional “Bush v. Gore,” proves Mr. Jefferson yet a Prophet of the One Creator G_d: a stranger to the visible apostate “church.”Novus Ordo Seclorem: The New SECULAR Order

  • It’s the 21st century, folks, discover it.

    The Constitution and the people who fought for it gave me my rights. This Imaginary Friend in the Sky that the primitive tribespeople here in the US believe in, sat around for an awfully long time doing nothing, if she/he actually exists.

  • It’s the 21st century, live with it.

    Sunana Batra said:”Fred Thompson’s faith in God can only be speculated upon, but what one can judge from his other comments is that in fact he IS a God fearing man.”Why do fundies all seem to think the most advanced, enlightened being in the universe is an unpredictable, violent, abusive alcoholic?

  • 21st century, really look at the calendar

    We must beware of unmedicated schizophrenics given to delusional religiosity which the power-kissing media presents to us as mere “politicians of faith”:”God told me to end tyranny in Iraq.” — George W. Bush, to the Palestinian Foreign Minister, 2004.

  • Brad S

    Not to confuse Al-Q with the Taliban, but it is difficult to see the clear difference between the Taliban and the hard-right Evangelical embrace of politics. The Taliban’s conservative philosophy is to cover their women, the hard-right Evangelical in no way accepts a woman’s right to choose or lead a life equal to that of a man. The Taliban’s conservative philosophy is to have public stonings, the hard-right Evangelical does not denounce (or partakes in) bombings of abortion clinics. The Taliban’s conservative philosophy (largely Islam) is that women are filthy and cannot be touched or spoken to during menstruation, the hard-right Evangelical completely disallows for, without any sense or allowance of critical thought, the “theory” of evolution. Isn’t this rather archaic? If the US allows a philosophy which can arguably be compared with the 11th century minded Taliban, that is exactly where the US will end up…or at least a devastating rewind.

  • Brad S

    Not to confuse Al-Q with the Taliban, but it is difficult to see the clear difference between the Taliban and the hard-right Evangelical embrace of politics. The Taliban’s conservative philosophy is to cover their women, the hard-right Evangelical in no way accepts a woman’s right to choose or lead a life equal to that of a man. The Taliban’s conservative philosophy is to have public stonings, the hard-right Evangelical does not denounce (or partakes in) bombings of abortion clinics. The Taliban’s conservative philosophy (largely Islam) is that women are filthy and cannot be touched or spoken to during menstruation, the hard-right Evangelical completely disallows for, without any sense or allowance of critical thought, the “theory” of evolution. Isn’t this rather archaic? If the US allows a philosophy which can arguably be compared with the 11th century minded Taliban, that is exactly where the US will end up…or at least a devastating rewind.

  • Ethan Quern

    Thank you for this article. It ensures that I will not ever ever cast a vote for Thompson, should the Democrats nominate Satan himself, I will vow to work ceaselessly for their election. I am so fed up with pompous gaseous male egomaniacs who think religion is their ticket to power. Americans got what they deserved the last time they voted that way, and thank the deities above, Americans are sick and tired of these moronic diatribes by people who should run for pope, not president.I’m notifying all the Democratic campaigns of this remark (not that they may need it) so that they can play this endlessly during the election to their benefit.By the way, I am as libertarian as they come, and I am outraged and incensed by these remarks. Religion has NO place in politics. None. Zippo.

  • Believer

    “Demos: The god of the Old Testament is a jealous god. Jealous enough to kill those who reject him. And christianity says the Old Testament is still valid, at least as I understand it. And regardless of what the New Testament say, look at the actions of christians. As soon as they took over the Roman Empire, they banned all other religions. Made practicing them a capital offense. Judaism and Islam are the same. Regardless of what contradictory messages are in their scriptures, in practice they are highly exclusivist religions. It is this exclusivity that enables their followers to kill others with a clear conscience. They are against god, they will go to hell anyways, so let’s just hurry things a bit.”Garak, there may be some things in the Old Testament that you’re not familiar with. Yes, for most of the period covered by the Hebrew scriptures the tribes of Israel were governed theocratically. But they were almost unique at the time in understanding God to be universal – not just the divine sponsor of their one nation (not that it was an easy lesson for them to learn – read the book of Jonah, which is among other thing an extended lesson against xenophobia; if you want another surprise, look at the book of Job again – a careful reading will show that Job wasn’t Jewish).You also seem to misunderstand how the Old Testament relates to Christianity. It provides the background for the New Testament, and we believe that there’s much we can learn from it about God’s nature and purposes, but we believe that the work of Christ has superceded the Mosaic law found in the Old Testament – if we didn’t, then we’d still be keeping it, and Christianity would just be another form of Judaism (e.g., Orthodox Judaism, Hasidic Judaism, Jesus Judaism).Religion doesn’t make men kill, though it has (and is) often used as an excuse for killing. Stalin and Pol Pot were perfectly capable of mass murder without any religious sanction. Let’s face it – there is something within human nature that is simply murderous. This is a stain on every cause that has been infected by it. But don’t be too hasty to tar religion with this as a way to raise the standard of secularism – if we were to look back at the 20th century and count the deaths attributable to Christianity and Judaism, and weigh them against those attributable to essentially atheistic totalitarian political philosphies, secularism wouldn’t look so good.Andy, you said “Anyone who talks about of how their version of God should somehow trump or dominate in the market place is not necessarily interested in Decomcracy but using democratic means for one ideology to dominate.”Who, specifically, in this blog discussion or on the 2008 presidential campaign trail, has said that “their version of God should somehow trump or dominate in the market place?” I certainly havn’t. I don’t believe anyone else has, either. Thompson couldn’t have – he’s been so coy about entering the campaing that he hasn’t said all that much about anything yet. Andy, we’d all be better of if we could just cool down and listen to each other. I know you’re honestly concerned – but statements like this are what lead so many churchgoers to believe that they and their faith are under attack. I’m sure you don’t want to restrict my right to worship, and to argue forcefully for what I believe. I’m also sure that you don’t want to prohibit my saying anything I want about the direction I think the country should be headed in, or who I think we should vote for – and to openly talk about how I came to those conclusions, whether that be through my economic philosphy, personal self-interest, or my religious faith. (If I’m wrong, tell me – because then we’ll really have something to debate.)In turn, I have absolutely no desire to create a theocracy. I have no desire to prohibit you from arguing against anything I believe – be it political, scientific, moral or theological. (To be fair, when we debate I would like to win – but face it, so would you.) No one is trying to take a way the right to free speach, free association, or the right to free exercise (or non-exercise) of religion. So why the heat? This is exactly the way democracy (small d) is supposed to work.

  • KSM

    Gee wizz!I see an awful lot of straw-man stuff going on here. I am a conservative evangelical Christian, I like what Thompson said, and I never knew that therefore I am automatically also a theocracy promoting homophic woman hater, bent on torturing innocent Arabs.Seriously guys, calm down.I’ve been an evangelical for 30 years and have moved widely in evangelical circles. Your impressions of evangelicals must be drawn from a group I am not familiar with. It certainly isn’t the mainstream evangelicalism that I am familiar with.Wow. If I thought what you think about evangelicals, I would hate them too. I just haven’t met any (or very, very few) who match your stereotype.Does “Believer” sound like a theocracy promoting homophobe? Would he want to stone his daughter if she slept with her boyfriend? Does he sound irrational and unreasonable? Would he reject the scientific method?He doesn’t sound that way to me.As adults we need to lay our emotions aside when making important decisions. It is easy and emotionally fullfilling to accuse and vent, but doing that often says more about ourselves than it does about our target.How about some civility and mutual respect?Our biggest challenge as humans is to accurately comprehend and properly respond to reality.You guys should do some research on what most evangelicals believe. I think that you would find that reality doesn’t agree with your preconceptions.

  • Demos

    “Not to confuse Al-Q with the Taliban, but it is difficult to see the clear difference between the Taliban and the hard-right Evangelical embrace of politics. The Taliban’s conservative philosophy is to cover their women, the hard-right Evangelical in no way accepts a woman’s right to choose or lead a life equal to that of a man. The Taliban’s conservative philosophy is to have public stonings, the hard-right Evangelical does not denounce (or partakes in) bombings of abortion clinics. The Taliban’s conservative philosophy (largely Islam) is that women are filthy and cannot be touched or spoken to during menstruation, the hard-right Evangelical completely disallows for, without any sense or allowance of critical thought, the “theory” of evolution. Isn’t this rather archaic? If the US allows a philosophy which can arguably be compared with the 11th century minded Taliban, that is exactly where the US will end up…or at least a devastating rewind.”Brad,are you really unable to tell the difference?The Taliban enforced Sharia as the law of the land – Evangelicals have made no attempt to overthrow the government, restrict the free exercise (or non-exercise) of religion, and work through the same democratic legislative processes as you do. The Taliban established their own religious courts – Evangelicals use the same court system you do (we disagree on who the best judges might be, but so do environmentalists and businessmen).The Taliban held public stonings – while in fact, no responsible religious leader in this country has supported bombing abortion clinics. You cannot find a single organized church or denomination that has, as part of it’s creed, policy or teaching, support for blowing up medical clinics.The Taliban disallowed the education, employment, or any public role for women. And you’re upset because some very conservative Christians don’t accept the theory of evolution? Most Christians, even conservative ones, do in fact believe in at least some role for evolutionary processes in the creation of the world. No church has introduced legislation to repeal your right to free speach, prohibiting you from saying anything you want about evolution.You want to know what the difference is? Bottom line:1) Conservative Christians disagree with you and vote differently than you do;2) The Taliban want to convert you at gunpoint or, if that doesn’t work, kill you.Doesn’t strike me as such a difficult distinction to make.

  • G.C.

    Pope: Sunday Worship a “Necessity” For All”Sine dominico non possumus!” “Without Sunday [worship] we cannot live!” Pope Benedict xvi declared during a mass on September 9 at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. Speaking on the final day of his three-day visit to Austria, the German pope voiced a strong call for Christians to revive Sunday keeping as an all-important religious practice. “Give the soul its Sunday, give Sunday its soul,” he chanted before a rain-soaked crowd of 40,000. Benedict said that Sunday, which he stated has its origin as “the day of the dawning of creation,” was “also the church’s weekly feast of creation.” Warning against the evils of allowing Sunday to become just a part of the weekend, the pope said people needed to have a spiritual focus during the first day of the week, or else leisure time would just become wasted time. Sunday worship, he warned, was not just a “precept” to be casually adhered to, but a “necessity” for all people. In the opening greeting, the archbishop of Vienna said a movement in Austria had been initiated to protect “Sunday from tendencies to empty [it] of its meaning.” In Austria, most businesses are restricted from operating on Sunday. However, some business groups are pressuring the government to be allowed to open, a move Roman Catholic groups vehemently oppose. During Benedict’s trip to Austria, he called for Europe to look to its Christian roots, to trust in God and to defend traditional values. The pope has been very vocal about Europe’s Christian-or Catholic-roots, and is pushing to have them included in the European Constitution. Although laws concerning Sunday worship are currently determined by individual nations, look for the European Union to eventually gain jurisdiction over the work week-which is one big reason the Catholic Church is so intimately involved with the evolution of the EU. For more on the Catholic Church and Europe, read “The Pope Trumpets Sunday” by the Trumpet’s editor in chief. .——————- “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come (the return of Christ), except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exaltheth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4″If protestants would follow the Bible, they should worship God on the Sabbath Day. In keeping the Sunday they are following a law of the Catholic Church.”–Albert Smith, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, replying for the cardinal in a letter of Feb. 10, 1920. Does the Papacy acknowledge changing the seventh-day Sabbath? It does. The Catechismus Romanus was commanded by the Council of Trent and published by the Vatican Press, by order of Pope Pius V, in 1566. This catechism for the priests says: “It pleased the church of God, that the religious celebration of the Sabbath day should be transferred to ‘the Lord’s day.’–Catechism of the Council of Trent (Donovan’s translation, 1867), part 3, chap. 4, p. 345. The same, in slightly different wording is in the McHugh and Callan translation (1937 ed.), p. 402. “Question: How prove you that the Church hath power to command feasts and holydays? “Answer: By the very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday, which Protestants allow of; and therefore they fondly contradict themselves, by keeping Sunday strictly, and breaking most other feasts commanded by the same Church.”–Henry Tuberville, An Abridgment of the Christian Doctrine (1833 approbation), p. 58. (Same statement in Manual of Christian Doctrine, ed. by Daniel Ferris {1916 ed.}, p. 67.) “Question: Have you any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of precept? “Answer: Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her; she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday the seventh day, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority.” Stephen Keenan, A Doctrinal Catechism (3d ed.), p. 174. “The Catholic Church,…by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday.”–The Catholic Mirror, official organ of Cardinal Gibbons, Sept. 23, 1893. “Question: Is Saturday the 7th day according to the Bible & the Ten Commandments? Answer: I answer yes. “Question: Is Sunday the first day of the week & did the Church change the 7th day–Saturday–for Sunday, the 1st day: Answer: “I answer yes.” “Question: Did Christ change the day? Answer: I answer no! Faithfully yours, “J. Card. Gibbons”–Gibbons autograph letter. Receiving the mark of the beast or the seal of God in the mind or the hand is not a literal “mark” to be put on our foreheads or our hand but it is our consent to whom we will obey. “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey? Romans 6:16Eternal life and eternal death lay before us and a choice each of us will make…our Creator says “choose life.”From this article We get a picture of the goals of the Catholic Church worldwide, and why they are insistent in the U.S. about harboring illegal aliens and promoting the breaking of our nation’s immigration laws. The facts are that most of these illegal aliens come from predominantly Catholic countries. If our elected officials and the Catholic church get their way regarding amnesty for millions of illegal aliens (even if they have to sneak them in in the back of Mexican trucks on the NAFTA Superhighway), that have invaded our country with the aiding and abetting of both our government and the Catholic church, the church plans on using the Catholic vote to do the same in our country as what they have proposed for the European nations and that is to have the state enforce their dogma. And the government will get the cheap labor force they want for commerce and globalizaiton…World Government & World Church…it’s taking shape. History is trying to repeat itself and the church wants all the power and control over mankind she once had.Notice what Pope Benedict XVI states: “Your life depends upon worshiping on Sunday.” Picture of things to come? Prophecy states it will and then the end will come.The battle is over who we will worship by whom we choose to believe and obey as we see in the last warning message to mankind in Revelation 14:6-12. Will we as God’s created beings choose to worship the One and Only True Creator God in His Truth or a False System in it’s lies created by a being that fell from his station in heaven because he wanted to be worshipped as God…we are free to choose, one is life, the other death. After everyone has made their choice as to who will receive their worship by who they choose to obey…probation will end, the plagues will fall, and Christ will return. Still doubt it? Read the article again, it’s happening just the way our God and Creator revealed to us it would happen, it is impossible for Him to lie. He cares, that’s why He stayed involved, that’s why He revealed the future to us so that when these things begin to transpire as He said they would you would believe and would accept His plan of salvation and prepare yourself. Believe God, your sin debt is paid, make better choices and follow the instruction for better living He has revealed to us…it is peace and joy and health, pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to be in you (we must ask, that gives permission because God and His power will not come in to you if you do not invite), and forgive…forgive others, this is a command from God, it you want Him to forgive you, you must forgive (they are only people too); forgive anything you have against God (He knows ALL things and all things will be revealed later) and forgive yourselves for whatever. Be clean, because He has made us clean from sin and guilt. And DON’T be fooled….Walk with God in His way…no other way will be recognized by Him. “BUT IN VAIN (futile, to no purpose or to no benefit) DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING FOR DOCTRINES THE COMMANDMENTS OF MEN.” (Matthew 15:9)

  • GC

    CFR / NAU & 2008 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES