Call for Culture War Truce

Dear Senators McCain and Obama: For our entire lives, America has been polarized by an angry culture war over such … Continued

Dear Senators McCain and Obama:

For our entire lives, America has been polarized by an angry culture war over such divisive issues as abortion and gay rights. It has been a fight marked by sincere passion and principles on the one hand, but also by stridency, vituperation, and lack of respect for the opposing sides’ motives and beliefs on the other.

We write to you from two traditionally warring camps, one evangelical and one progressive, joined in one voice and one vision, to offer an olive branch to end the culture wars. This olive branch is not a surrender, but a new approach that allows each of you to maintain your core principles, just as we have maintained ours, and heal a nation that is tired of the fight. This approach is based on common ground and common values.

In the 35-year fight since Roe v. Wade, it seems there are few common values to be found between our opposing sides. But it turns out that nearly all of us agree on the common value that we should reduce the need for abortions in America.

Supporting that common value is the common ground of dramatically reducing the number of unintended pregnancies in this country that lead to abortions. It means together supporting sex education programs that include accurate information about contraception and the importance of abstinence so that fewer unintended pregnancies occur. It means together supporting programs that teach parents how to communicate better with their children about values and programs that give low-income women greater access to contraception. It means that together we can agree that abortion should never be the only option and that young and poor pregnant women should receive support when they feel they need it to carry their pregnancy to term. The truth is that the most effective way to reduce the prevalence of abortions in America is to actually work together rather than to fight.

Gay and lesbian issues, like abortion, have also been tearing the nation apart. Here again, the differences are real and rooted in theological and philosophical differences. But on these issues too we can find a shared common value and shared path forward. That shared value is human dignity. We can all agree that all human beings are created in God’s image and have and deserve an innate human dignity – even those with whom one differs or disagrees. We can all agree that honoring this human dignity is a high moral and religious calling. And we can agree that any laws we create to expand rights must not abridge the religious liberty of religious communities. Common ground means, for example, that, apart from religious institutions, the workplace should judge you at work for the job you do and nothing more. That would be a careful step along America’s journey to fulfill its national ideals, and also to honor our highest moral and religious beliefs.

Senators McCain and Obama, each of you are running as a different kind of candidate, seeking to bring the nation together rather than to split us apart. Each of you has great potential to model a new type of leadership. Each of you has the power to heal the country and carve a new path forward through our shared common values.

We humbly submit our joint prayer that you, Senators McCain and Obama, help bring a just end to the culture wars.

With great respect,

David Gushee, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics, Mercer University.
Rachel Laser, Culture Program Director, Third Way.

  • beaukitty

    “And we can agree that any laws we create to expand rights must not abridge the religious liberty of religious communities.”Is that a backhanded way to say that it’s ok for LGBT folks to live in the community..as long as they stay away from practicing their faith in their communities? They can be allowed to live, just not fully?

  • Katja

    Beaukitty, not really. It just means that religious communities get to make their own rules as they see fit – government can and must allow civil marriage for gay folks, but they cannot force the Catholic church to solemnize such marriages in their faith (as for example, divorcees are allowed to marry civilly, but not in the Catholic church).

  • BC

    And leave women’s reproductive health alone by your laws. If a law will unduly restrict a woman and have no effect on a man, don’t pass it. This idea that men have ANY say whatsoever on what a woman does with her body has to end.

  • JeffRob

    Beautifully written. Thank you both very much.Now we can only pray they heed your call, as we do all we can to strive to heed it ourselves.

  • npr

    “We can all agree that all human beings… have and deserve an innate human dignity”

  • beaukitty

    While I absolutely agree that the government has no place in religion, other that to secure it from infringement, I am confounded by the application of that princilpe.The Southern Baptist church was founded specifically to support segregation, they have since apologized.I guess that my issue is that western religions are based on division and restrictions, and exclusion ( Kosher, No admission to the Temple, No birth control..et.).Whereas eastern philosophy is based on the notion that we are all from one place, that we are all ourselves divine, which is defined many different ways, and that nature and man are one and as they should be.I guess that that is really my conflict. I refuse to believe that I have a right to deny anyone their full place in the scheme of thigs.If actions are any indication, others do not share that view and for reasons that I will never understand, need to disassociate from people that they disagree with.Well it’s clearer in my mind, so I guess that this was useful.

  • OldUncleTom

    Finally, a rational approach …

  • Mike

    Question: Do all unborn children have the right to that “human dignity” spoken of or only just some of them?

  • Justice For All

    The culture wars were not started by the churches. They were started by those who would oppress religion under the guise of substituting freedom from religion for freedom of religion. I, despite being from a highly conservative religion, support the statement and Katja’s post. The freedom of Unitarians must be equal to that of Catholics and Southern Baptists, and that is the right path. It most often seems that those who hate religion have their way. If you don’t believe in religion, just leave this long-haired country boy alone. The ACLU would be well-served to support the American Family Association at many times. In some cases, they have.

  • artmann11

    Gays, guns and god!(and abortion)These are the aspects of the culture war that Republicans use regularly as part of their election strategy. Driving wedges is what the Atwater/Rove machines do.There is no way in hell that they will give up these tools/weapons. As a matter of fact they are expanding them to include Islam and race.It was a nice thought but futile. The only way they’ll stop the culture war, if at all, is to get beaten so badly they know it is a dead end for their party.

  • OldUncleTom

    BC writes: And leave women’s reproductive health alone by your laws. If a law will unduly restrict a woman and have no effect on a man, don’t pass it. This idea that men have ANY say whatsoever on what a woman does with her body has to end.

  • laughing at the dems

    the whole flaw with this plea is that it assumes all cultures are equal. they are not, nor will they ever bethe codeword ‘progessive’ really means permissive. the further we get away from nuclear family values and the further we devolve into everthing for everyone and all are equal, the more diluted america becomes and as a subset, more weakened.the great lie of the 20th century is diversity. america never was founded on the liberal agenda of today, the reason it gets worse/divisive every year is we try to pretend that everyone is the same and deserves the same voice and power.’take back america’ has to be the funniest thing ever uttered by a lib. take it back from what ? from whom ? it was never yours…ever. and when you do get all the power you crave, the America you wanted so badly will be so crippled and deformed, it won’t be worth fighting for. then you will really have won.

  • Eric R. Sturms

    The trouble with ending the so call “Culture Wars” is that Yeshua Hamaschiach is against sterile Murder in the womb and against a man choosing to slap a righteous God in the face and(or woman) and claiming that in trying to procreate through forced frustration is rooted in our eating off of God’s plate in opinion not culture. It will not go away and Mr. Obama would be wise not to offend God for political expediency. The other side has no compassion and they think that all righteous can be legislated. The middle ground of these two mandates is not political but human and Holy in how much they are successfully carried out.

  • Jake

    The culture wars were started because of the push for policies such as abortion. The “religious right” and people such as Jerry Falwell got their start in the political area because of reactions to Roe vs. Wade. Rather than allowing society to have any restrictions on abortion, the law was changed by court order.What I’m trying to say, is that society never came to any consensus on what abortion policy should be. Instead the most lenient liberal policy possible was installed by court order. This means that those opposed were denied any input in the political process to deal with what our abortion policies as a society should be.The same thing is now happening with homosexual marriage, as the movement to redefine marriage through court order takes place. I believe that the social/political climate around same sex marriage would be entirely different if changes were coming about through legislation, rather than being imposed by a court.

  • dj333

    “Safe, Legal, and Rare” has been a Liberal buzz-phrase for some years now – I don’t think we are the ones unwilling to call an end to the Culture Wars. It really looks to us like quite a few Right-To-Lifer’s only care about other people’s children BEFORE they are born (though by no means does this critique apply to all). Many of us on the “Left” think that public healthcare would by itself reduce the number of abortions, and would welcome Evangelical support on this issue. No one is “pro-abortion”, simply “anti-back-alley-abortion” – it is frustrating that the other side is so insecure as to be unable to even see the moral basis of our position (saving the lives of young mothers, instead of risking both). Believe me when I say that we actually can see yours, even as we see ours as more realistic and saving more lives. We simply believe that actually helping people is more holy than rigidly drawing a line in the sand, whatever the human cost.

  • dj333

    “Safe, Legal, and Rare” has been a Liberal buzz-phrase for some years now – I don’t think we are the ones unwilling to call an end to the Culture Wars. It really looks to us like quite a few Right-To-Lifer’s only care about other people’s children BEFORE they are born (though by no means does this critique apply to all). Many of us on the “Left” think that public healthcare would by itself reduce the number of abortions, and would welcome Evangelical support on this issue. No one is “pro-abortion”, simply “anti-back-alley-abortion” – it is frustrating that the other side is so insecure as to be unable to even see the moral basis of our position (saving the lives of young mothers, instead of risking both). Believe me when I say that we actually can see yours, even as we see ours as more realistic and saving more lives. We simply believe that actually helping people is more holy than rigidly drawing a line in the sand, whatever the human cost.

  • dj333

    “Safe, Legal, and Rare” has been a Liberal buzz-phrase for some years now – I don’t think we are the ones unwilling to call an end to the Culture Wars. It really looks to us like quite a few Right-To-Lifer’s only care about other people’s children BEFORE they are born (though by no means does this critique apply to all). Many of us on the “Left” think that public healthcare would by itself reduce the number of abortions, and would welcome Evangelical support on this issue. No one is “pro-abortion”, simply “anti-back-alley-abortion” – it is frustrating that the other side is so insecure as to be unable to even see the moral basis of our position (saving the lives of young mothers, instead of risking both). Believe me when I say that we actually can see yours, even as we see ours as more realistic and saving more lives. We simply believe that actually helping people is more holy than rigidly drawing a line in the sand, whatever the human cost.

  • Eaglepeak

    Whatever happened to tolerance? Maybe it’s something we ought to try.

  • Lynn E

    I don’t think they are going to end anytime soon. There are people who hate others being gay or being gay themselves and others who hate abortion to the point where they want to keep others from having them. There are gay people in the world and there are abortions and always will be, they need to be safe. Two vastly opposing points of view. I would look even further at the culture wars. I suspect they have always been around since the inception of this country, it was slavery then and has never really stopped in some form or another.

  • abby0802

    Let us approach these sensitive issues with compassion, thoughtfulness, and reason and with a sense of our own fallibility. Vituperation serves no purpose.

  • 809212876

    Nice try. I’m sure that BOTH candidates would LOVE to deep six the culture wars, and focus on real issues like the war and the economy but the candidates are NOT in a position to do much about it as they don’t control the levers of loudmouths like Dobson, Robertson, O’Reilly, Hannity, Limbaugh, et al.The culture warriors of the evangelical right-wing, pro-life, anti-gay crowds at FOTF, FRC, et al, will no doubt continue their take no prisoners, all or none, scorched earth, total victory game plan. To do otherwise would jeopardize their funding stream, the funding that got them into Rove’s office in the White House. The knuckle draggers on the far right want to take us back to the dark ages like the Taliban did to Afghanistan.The culture warriors on the progressive left-wing will have no choice but to keep appealing for funds to keep battling the goons who want to dictate morality to the nation. Until the far right ceases and desists, no change will happen, we’ll just have to bludgeon them with logic and reason until they are overwhelmed and focus on other issues, like figuring out why half or more of the marriages performed in their churches end in divorce.

  • jack wilson

    Amen and amen!

  • oconnellme

    Oh, please stop embarrassing yourselves, both of you.There is no common ground on these issues, any more than there was on slavery or civil rights.

  • Hillary Supporter

    It is not a cultural war, but a war to save the soul and heart of America and americans need to come together to defend our country from the threat of Barack Hussein’s congregation of radical extremists and black supremacists that hate America and wish its demise.Americans need to come together and vote for John McCain, a true patriot that loves the country we’ve always been proud of.Americans need to save the country we love and vote for John McCain!

  • Equal Rights for ALL

    EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL PEOPLEGays are second class citizens. We should have equal rights or not pay any taxes until our civil rights are equal. Everyone should have equal rights like our Constitution states. Every day we gays face defamation. We want a committed loving relationship so we can take care of each other in our marriage. We want to be able to earn a living without facing discrimination in the work place. We can be fired just because we are gay. We need to feel safe in our communities. There are lots of hate crimes toward gay folks.GAYS WANT EQUAL RIGHTS, NOT SPECIAL RIGHTS

  • Larry-T

    The real solution to the culture wars is to get religious zealots to stop trying to impose their narrow-minded sectarian doctrine on a diverse society. “Christian Ethics” are no more valie than any other form of ethics. I’m really tired of “Christians” assuming that they own the moral and ethical high ground.

  • Lamb Cannon

    So if you guys would just agree with our shortsighted agenda, then we’d all get along great and everyone will get a Jeebus Pony!

  • Orm

    All I have to say to this is “Amen”.

  • Bob Thompson

    Cultural issues are peanuts when compared to economic issues. The federal government must get its hands out of the people’s pockets if we are to preserve the freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution. The federal government is constantly encroaching these freedoms. If we can recover our liberty and economic freedom, we can then make sure the federal government is not involved in cultural issues, primarily religion. Abortion is very complicated and differences are legitimate. Since many people, maybe even a majority, think there is a right to life issue involved, and many others feel the issue is a woman’s right to choose what happens in her own body, this particular difference may go on for some time. Maybe a state by state solution is the answer.

  • anthony

    As a Catholic, this doesn’t strike me as a way out of the culture war.

  • Brad Ericson

    Per usual, the problem is the incredibly stupid notion that there is a god at all. If we could just rid this nation of silly superstition, any so called “culture war” problems will disappear.

  • Freddy

    The “Culture Wars” are based on religious lies.In the entire span of the Bible, abortion is NEVER equated with murder. Human life is NEVER listed as starting at conception. These are all lies from the religious right, and they have fooled a lot of people. What did God say about abortion? In the Talmud, Life begins at birth. A fetus is POTENTIAL life. There are many examples of abortions in the history of the ancient Hebrews. Jesus had a lot of time in the gospels to tell us if He disagreed. Jesus NEVER said he disagreed with any teachings on abortion. Instead, Jesus spent his time telling us to take care of the REAL vulnerable: the poor, the sick, children, immigrants, etc.The religious right wastes their pity on what God tells us is only potential life and permit the suffering and death of what God tells us is ACTUAL life.

  • Trudy Bond

    Your “common prayer” leaves out completely those of us who do not believe in a god – and thus does not unite.

  • Outlaw Torn

    So basically, those of us who think things through with logic and reason have to alter from such logic and reason to cater to those who want us to believe in some man-made god that decided several thousand years ago that the most important issues around in the world today are abortion and gay marriage?!?!Look, I’m all for compromise in politics when both parties reach separate but logical conclusions. But when you have a group of logical people arguing with a bunch of people who believe in fairy tales, compromise just degrades the final conclusion reached.

  • Tom3

    The problem with the culture wars is that one side is wrong and is the bad guy.That side is the Repuke “Christian” Reich.They are not real Christians. They advocate torture.They are not real Americans. They advocate treason.The only way this war stops is when these evil Repukes LOSE.Frankly, I think they have all had a psychotic break from reality since they live in Junkie Rush Limbaugh’s Bizarro World.I think we should institutionalize all of them.

  • AsperGirl

    It’s funny that you’re calling an “end to the culture war”. Obama’s the one who’s engaging in that kind of campaigning, both explicitly and implicitly, against what his followers call “Repugs” (Republicans) and “old politics” (old white people). What do you think is behind all the vague “change” rhetoric? If you talk to his young supporters, what you will hear what their ideas are sounding more and more like anti-white, anti-establishment, young-versus-old, poor-versus-rich, culture war. There is a lot of arrogance, alienation and divisiveness in this campaign season. The rhetoric of hate speech and I’m-cool-and-you’re-obsolete, is coming from the Obama supporters and surrogates. Even Wesley Clark’s remark that “getting shot down isn’t qualification for being President” remark is emblematic for the disrespect and culture of belittling that the Obama campaign has been all about in its behind the scenes new-media machine driving the debates this year.You are failing to distinguish between social wedge issues and tribalism, where social wedge issues are a more specific, narrow form of tribalist behavior. The divisiveness of using social conservative wedge issues to divide the electorate and demonize opponents isn’t something that the McCain campaign is doing this year. The divisiveness of tribalism, Republican demonizing and knee-jerk personal belittling is something that the Obama campaign is engaging in and has been all year. Social acceptability and group labeling and demonizing are only two faces of the same divisive tribalism.Being a former Clinton supporter, I can say that the Obama campaign is the most divisive I’ve seen. The only reason why the general election against McCain isn’t as poisonous, nasty and insulting as the Clinton-bashing is that the media likes McCain and isn’t biting when attack dogs like Wesley Clark goes to them and pedals his poison. (It was a coordinated attack, by the way, only the other Obama surrogates who were belittling McCain’s military experience were doing it at campaign events and not in front of the camera, like Clark did).

  • Schellhase

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m sure the 60s were traumatic for everyone, but it’s time to move on. Though, as these, comments reveal, people are entrenched on both sides, real leadership could lead to real solutions, not political tripe. The Obama and McCain candidacies themselves show that the country is ready to move forward.

  • fzdybel

    Stop the culture wars? As usual this rag is too late. The culture wars are over. The bluenoses lost. Ask the kids, even the religious ones.

  • Dwight

    no Catholic can vote for obama because he failed to vote on a bill outlawing partial birth abortion.

  • David Duffy

    I agree that the recognition and primacy of human dignity is a sorely lacking commodity in our national dialogue and were all sides to hold such dignity as sacred, our debate would be more civil and might actually result in common solutions. But I do take issue with some of your conclusion.2. The valuing of human dignity is not a religious calling. It is not necessary to accept any dogma of any religion to recognize the importance of dignity for all. Actually, it is religion that is often quick to degrade the dignity of those who differ from their creeds.3. Abortion is a vexing and emotional issue and not one to be easily resolved, least of all by me. I can only have an opinion and live accordingly. No, my problem with that all the supposed concern and shrill rhetoric about the value of a childs life seems to end once the infant departs the womb. The religious seem to care not a whit about the children slaughtered by their guns while exercising their sacred right to bear arms. Nor do I hear a peep about the slaughter of tens of thousands of children in Iraq in pursuit of our current foreign policy, nor about the thousands of American lives lost and destroyed by a president who claims to be guided by God.4. Most of the other issues, like gay rights are simply wedge issues used to galvanize otherwise reluctant voters and do us the terrible disservice of diverting attention away from the real issues that face us such as the war, economy, education, medical care, the rape of the Constitution and so on. No one suffers if gays marry, no one dies if a flag is burned. Granting freedom and equal protection to all citizens does not abridge the religious liberty of religious communities, unless those communities are built around bigotry.Dave Duffy

  • Jeff Jacobberger

    It is a load of hooey to “invite” Obama and McCain to bring and end to the culture wars. The authors say they support legislation that would protect the LGBT community from employment discrimination if it also protects the rights of religiously-affiliated employers. Such a bill has been languishing in Congress for years; the one time it came up for a vote, McCain voted against it, and the bill lost by one vote. That makes him responsible for the bill’s failure. As a gay man, I am sick and tired of the media and “thoughtful” commentators ignoring the fact that right-wingers of all stripes–including areligious ones like McCain–are rigidly opposed to any basic legal protections for LGBT people. I could accept the sincerity of conservatives’ beliefs if they actually honestly acknowledged their own positions. To the authors: what exactly is wrogn with ENDA, in your view? Not generally, but what words do you disagree with, and what words do you propose? Anything less is simply meaningless fluff in which you pretend to find “common ground” without actually making any effort to define it.

  • Anonymous

    The religious acquire their beliefs in the environment they grow up in.

  • Tommy Birchfield

    Yea right, “THE WORLD IS HANGING BY A THREAD” the U.S. has 76% of its population without a College Education, and you think these two men can change what America failed to change for Decades, if you believe that, “I have A bridge I’d like to sell you!In conclusion, the world is hanging by a thread, the republicans/record of the last seven years has made matters “WORSE” the republicans record, shows a MESS, shows TREASON, and shows the world America has now thanks to the republicans lost the Moral high ground, oh yea one more thing to from the republicans, a record Deficit/BILL, ….”APPRECIATE IT!…”Be sure now you “RUN” and Vote Republcian again, I’m sure the OIL COMPANIES and Millionaire McCain/Mcsame would apppreciate it, This registered Voter/Vet USAF, see the republicans record as CRIMINAL, just hope the country continues to keep putting them back in that way they can finish off America, after all they’ve already brought it down to its KNEES…..”APPRECIATE IT!

  • Dwight

    to all you Catholics that vote for those who support abortion, consider yourselves excommunicated from the church.

  • SteveCO

    Dwight:”to all you Catholics that vote for those who support abortion, consider yourselves excommunicated from the church.”Who the hell are you, you officious pr—? Do you speak “ex cathedra”? How about those Catholics in Congress who voted for a war based on hysterical lies by Bush/Cheny, causing the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians? Should’ve been called “shock and murder”.And if it doesn’t…then the Catholic Church ain’t worth dog crap.There’s NOTHING about abortion in your bible. The Catholic Church allowed abortion until “quickening” – first movement of the fetus, until 1869. Seems rather hypocritical to be against it now, but hey, that’s this pig church for you. It’s turned far right fascist itself – hell, the Pope is an ex-Nazi Youth member. Not much God-inspired wisdom for ol’ “Eggs” Benedict, given that he then went on to fight as a Nazi for Hitler. The compassionate sisters and priests such as the Berrigan brothers from the ’60s is gone. In its place, we get this right-wing idiot who mentions abortion in public while visiting Bush, but apparently lost all god-given courage concerning the war, torture of prisoners, etc., while announcing earth-shattering modern concessions for the Catholic Church, like returning to Latin for the Mass, trying to re-install mystery in an institution where you can see the man behind the curtains.No mystery; anti-people, pro-the most real estate holdings in the world, run by a Nazi pope: your 21st century Catholic Church.

  • npr

    Why can’t we all just compromise? Give women control of their bodies on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and bump gays and lesbians up to first-and-a-half class citizenship. It just takes a little imagination. Okay, a lot.

  • Anonymous

    Dwight:Do you really think no Catholics will vote for Obama? After all, America is the land of the “cafeteria plan” Catholic. They pretty much take what comfort they get from the rituals, and ignore the stupidity – like no birth control and no being allowed to enjoy sex (changed by the last Pope) – and throw it out the window.I know you’re one of those crazed Catholic extremist like what’s-his-idiot, Donovan I believe, who sounds like a viscious hit man when defending his precious Church from charges that the *entire Church hierarchy* through the yeras, including the pope, helped move pedophile priests from their current victims, and quietly and without warning moving them to other parishes, where they begin their predatory practices anew, on new, unwarned victims.Your Church has crap for relevance, has zero empathy toward anyone not blindly following idiot church dogma. It’s misogynist, and right there, violates women’s rights with its strange and unscientific bias toward men.Who cares about the Catholic Church? Their tax-exempt status was forfeit in 2000, when they started talking about abortion supporters, as if those were the only sins of American politicians, despite the war criminality and impeachable offense committed by this administration. Bush just loves the CC, so it’ll take a real and legal president to end this garbage.

  • Enemy Of The State

    The ‘culture war’ has been around for a long time. It is solely the cause of the religious right spewing its anti-secularist propaganda and advancing the cause of hate that perpetuates it.How about the religionists and other sociatal parasites (how else would you characterize people whose organizations don’t pay their fair share of taxes?) stop their attacks on those of us who disagree with them, and recognize that there are other world views.Jesus may be their savior – he certainly is not mine.

  • Phiilp Mella

    Although common ground should always be sought, it’s typically the case that for many, perhaps most on the left, that means demanding that conservatives capitulate. Indeed, ‘bipartisanship’ for the liberal means deep concessions by conseratives, whether it’s on taxes, military spending, or the abortion debate.Phil Mella

  • Phiilp Mella

    Although common ground should always be sought, it’s typically the case that for many, perhaps most on the left, that means demanding that conservatives capitulate. Indeed, ‘bipartisanship’ for the liberal means deep concessions by conseratives, whether it’s on taxes, military spending, or the abortion debate.Phil Mella

  • Kyron Huigens

    The problem with bi-partisan solutions to the culture wars is that it’s not a bi-partisan phenomenon. Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland is only the most recent history describing the conscious manipulation of divisive social issues to split the Roosevelt coalition and defeat the Democratic Party. Forty years later, they’re still at it. To call on Democrats to help stop the culture wars is like calling on the United States to help stop jihad.

  • Philip Mella

    Although common ground should always be sought, it’s typically the case that for many, perhaps most on the left, that means demanding that conservatives capitulate. Indeed, ‘bipartisanship’ for the liberal means deep concessions by conseratives, whether it’s on taxes, military spending, or the abortion debate.Phil Mella

  • Bert

    I think the whole gay rights/abortion rights/whatever else is on the plate, there, all of it really makes a great case for staying single. Want to live your own life? Don’t get married. Don’t co-habitate, just to remove any doubt from the situation. Pro-life, anti-life, whatever, I don’t care, I’m just fatigued with people with religious affiliations that think they apparently have some Divine Right to tell others how to live their lives. I’m sorry, I didn’t slog all the way through high school and umpteen jobs since then to live my life on bended knee in front of some guy in a pointy hat that’s going to minister the rest of my life to me etc. Especially when the Clergy seems to be ‘values impaired’ etc. these days. If they’re not raiding your wallet, or molesting your kids, then they’re agitating for war or trying to subvert the political process. I’m sorry, but ‘no sale’. Thanks anyway!

  • Bob Thompson

    The federal government loves it when you folks spend all your time and effort in disputes about cultural values, while they take all your money through taxes and inflation. Both presidential candidates do a lot of talking about cultural issues and immediate economic issues like gasoline prices and they make promises they cannot keep, but they avoid discussing real issues like how the federal government is stealing your money through inflation (right now at levels of 12 or 13 per cent) by manipulating the calculations (so that now the rate they tell you is 3 or 4 per cent) by excluding fuel and food prices. And we let them get away with it. Let’s wake up!

  • Black Saint

    More and More this Nation is looking like Mexico as Mexico purges its Population of Common criminals & uneducated Peons as millions are surging across our borders for welfare and jobs with tax payer benefits of 20k per year for each! Employers get nearly slave labor without paying taxes on labor cost, no withholding or benefits, so it is a great deal for everyone. But citizens and the future of this Nation. But the Democrat Politicians will have 100,s of millions new welfare voters to further their Socialist Agenda, the Republican Politicians an unlimited supply of nearly slave labor for their Pay Masters in the Corporations and Businesses. The only losers are current American Citizens & their progeny and either Party gives a damn about them! But hey, being PC and the latest Washington and Hollywood scandals are more important than leaving our children an Corrupt, Crime infested, Poverty stricken Nation, so as the invading Latinos establish beach heads from coast to coast recreating there Mexican environment of Crime, Corruption, Poverty and Misery we sit by fat (literally) dumb (totally) and happy (maybe).

  • mnjam

    Only a “dDistinguished Professor of Christian Ethics” or a “Culture Program Director” would even think there is a “culture war.” It’s just another Republican scam for robbing the rest of us blind. Divide and rob.

  • Anonymous

    Why is it that most poor third world countries have three things in common? They usually have a predominately Catholic or Muslin population, corruption is a way of life, and they breed like rabbits? Of course, the Catholic church realizes, that even as it encourages them to breed and not used birth control that many of the children will starve or die from childhood disease, but as long as they are Catholic, that is OK, enough will survive to make more Catholics. After losing members in the USA due to birth control & Scandal the Catholic church is now making a comeback due to the millions of Illegal Aliens pouring across our borders. Its an ideal plan, let the Catholics Latinos pour across our open borders and Breed like Rabbits while forcing American tax payers to pay an average of 20k per year for each one to provide education, medical care and welfare for them. That is why the Pope spoke about taking care of Immigrants and wants blanket amnesty for them and why all Catholic Churches are for breaking the law and encourage & protecting Illegal Aliens and open Borders! When the next president gives the 20 to 30 million mostly uneducated Illegal Aliens citizenship alone with chain migration there will be 100,s of millions of new fast breeding, educating hating, criminally inclined , welfare loving Catholic Latino citizens and the Nation will soon join the Third World as they breed us into poverty, like they have Mexico and Latin American. But the Democrat Politicians will have the welfare votes and further their Socialist Agenda, the Republican Politicians an unlimited supply of nearly slave labor for their Pay Masters in the Corporations and Businesses and the Church more millions of Catholics to preach their dogma, past the collection plate, and lots of children for the priests to play with. The only losers are current American Citizens & their progeny and either Party or the Catholic church gives a damn about them!

  • Bill

    What a clever idea — take the liberal position on the two issues (abortion and gay rights) and relabel that position “common ground.” “Real” common ground for abortion would be to recognize that the vast majority of Americans oppose abortion on demand. So how about if Obama and McCain support the outlawing of abortions except in the case of rape or incest? Some would criticize the compromise for not going far enough, reasoning that any taking of an innocent life is wrong. Some would criticize the compromise because they think all abortions should be legal, no matter how shallow the reason and no matter that a life is snuffed out in the process. But the vast majority would hail it as an acceptable compromise — “common ground,” as you say.

  • Chaotician

    The so-called Humanist position has been compromised away to the point of no agenda at all! The True Compromise is for the NeoCon Conservative Evangelicals to accept their basic right to live and worship as they choose and give us the same rights! They have NO right in the Constitution or their religion to force their superstitions, their prejudices, or their ignorance on any one else! Assuming their beliefs have some merit, then by living their lives properly and well; we will surely see the benefit!

  • Alex Kowalski

    Thanks for another Washington Post “on faith” dissembling, wherein two people who pretty much agree come together in a blog post in Washington’s most influential newspaper to try and proclaim that we can all just get along if we agree with them.No. Dr. Gushee, it isn’t going to happen, and that’s because abortion and homosexuality are not something that can be argued away by a couple of liberals who agree to stop yelling because they’re just tired of hearing it and want everyone else to stop, too.Go home, folks. Stay out of everyone else’s business and learn that you don’t have the right to be social engineers just because one or both of you is a tenured professor.

  • jggrimm

    Wouldn’t it be perfect if there were no differences between the two candidates, no differences between men and women, no difference between a man marrying a woman or a man marrying a man, between pathological sodomy and heterosexual intimacy, between killing a baby while it is being born and when it is an embryo, between being an American and just being here, between earning your keep or letting someone else earn it for you, between self defense and battery, between being an honest cop and just being a cop, between stealing because it’s okay to be a thief and not stealing because it is not okay to be a thief, between treating people with respect or treating them with indifference… Oh, golly, let’s stop the culture war so we can stand for absolutely nothing and just get along. Please, God, can’t we just have fun?

  • Joe Tomlinson

    One little problem with your proposal: the Bible. Are you aware that the evangelical’s relationship with the Bible is so intense that any smidgen of compromise with those persons and practices who are opposed and denounced by their scripture will bring a hue and cry so loud that it will rip apart whole religious traditions not to mention the social fabric, the delicate social fabric of our tortured and fragmented culture — just like it’s doing now.

  • Garyd

    Your goals are quite laudable. But in the grand scheme of things these are side issues. The real problem here is whether or not we should follow the European model that even the Europeans are having trouble with of ever expanding government and a government of by and for the bureaucrats vs of by and for the people. There is little evidence that the federal government of the United States is anything more than a really big hammer with which to try to pound square pegs into round holes. We have spent, since LBJ began his ill fated war on poverty in 1968, in the vicinity of 10 trillion dollars and the net effect is that you can now be poor on more money than ever before.

  • winemaster2

    BS ! It is not a cultural war that divides this country but rather less then 1/3 population of Conservative Republican kind, their agenda of terror hype, fomentation of hate, fear and republican patriotic feeding frenzy to control the hearts and minds of a misled and gullible nation. On top of it all their perverse cancer of inequality, rights only of their kind and pushing down the nation’s throat their agenda and cause that the 39 conservative white men, the representative of 12 colonies carved out, for their own enterprise of plantations, slave ownership and vast land speculation. All they wanted was justice for themselves, insure welfare and tranquility of their own kind, plus secure the blessings of liberty and posterity to themselves. In their quest for self interests and self righteousness, they totally for ever left out any rights of the Native Indians, the rightful owners of all the lands, the blacks slaves or free and all other minorities. To that end, this nation is plagued with the same curse and these conservative republicans bigots keep on manipulating the system to their perverse and self centered ideology.They have the Supremo like Scalia proclaiming the Constitution to be a dead document, meaning that it cannot evolve for the 21 st century needs of the US nor can it accommodate WE THE PEOPLE. The in the same breath, the high mighty has the audacity to further proclaim, that all his decisions are based on the principles of Democracy and the Democratic Process. When in fact the words Democracy, Democratic Principles or Democratic process are no where mentioned in the Constitution.

  • A Catholic

    Dwight wrote: “to all you Catholics that vote for those who support abortion, consider yourselves excommunicated from the church.”And what happens when it is outlawed? Have you considered what would happen then? No more choice, well, there is always a choice. Abortion goes back a long time, legal or not. It will continue. But what will begin anew is for teenagers to have to carry a child to term, die or be maimed in illegal abortions, pregnant women being force to be left alone to die as doctors are not allowed to help upon punishment of imprisonment if they abort to save the mother. Teenagers who do have abortions will be jailed. Those who get abortion pills from overseas will also be jailed. That is the world you want, a tyrannical world where the fetus has more rights than the mother. And what is more upsetting is that it is based on a religion, a religion that some of its followers think they have the right to foist upon the rest of Americans, Catholic or not.You have no right to excommunicate anyone. Remember that. You have no Godly powers nor can you use God to fight your holy wars. All you have is the fear your religion created to toss at other Catholics, hoping to change their positions. Well, if such a law ever happened, and a woman died because she could not get an abortion to save her life, you will burn in hell for eternity for supporting her death. That’s what my Catholic teaching tells me. Consider that the next time you think you have the one and only answer and are willing to use God, as though you can, to fight for you. You know what people who have others fight for them are called, don’t you?

  • SteveCO

    “Although common ground should always be sought, it’s typically the case that for many, perhaps most on the left, that means demanding that conservatives capitulate.”Damn tootin’. And by conservatives, you mean neocon rednecks. Blustery, snide jerks who thought they could instill a fascist dictatorship in this country. Who still think they can pull off ANOTHER illegal war, against Iran, *just to help Republicans and McCain into office*. It’s breathtaking, the emotionless misanthropy being practiced in our faces. They’re not even pretending to care what anyone thinks.But rednecks have had their chance, and in this lesson, likely will never gain control again.Yeah, we’ve seen how much ‘bipartisanship’ the Congressional Republican sheep have practiced the last eight years, with whacked out spending of over a TRILLION dollars on a war, brainless psychos that bomb abortion clinics and murder doctors – and gee-zuz, these are some spittle-spraying crazies – who are then *hidden around the country* by like-minded murderer accomplices; for taxes, let’s mention the tax breaks Bush has given profit-laden corporations and rich people, at the expense of the shrinking middle class; lower classes are slowly transferring to the streets. That take care of your big three?I never thought in this country we’d see an entire legislative body so paralyzed, completely controlled by Republicans, voting in a solid block every time as if Cheney had an electric wire up each of their butts. What a bunch of gutless robots! No mavericks, no one elegant, just power-abusing far-right screamers and a few homophobic homosexuals acting as if they nonetheless have a corner on God and morality ’cause they’re in self-denial (tho I won’t mention any *specific* Craig…er, Congressperson).As the full impact of all Bush has done hits everyone early next year, those guys are going to look like such feeble losers as the Congressional Record for the Bush era is gradually read into the record at trials. I’m guessing most, if not all, will be alive to see it and their place in history.

  • Linguist

    Um…So, once your “common ground” is law, will the partner of my gay friend, who is a foreign national, be allowed to stay with him in this country for the rest of his life, or will he remain a complete legal stranger to him and be deported? Will the parents of another gay friend get to keep the estate of their estranged son, while his partner of almost 30 years remains completely without legal recourse? Will…but I think you get the idea: “common ground” would indeed be wonderful…but only if that “common ground” included full rights and responsibilities for those whom many on the Right are determined to exclude from all legal protections for their families.

  • Angela Sutton

    They really need get back to the real business of things, they are lacking professionalism & character. The best president that we can have is a person of strong character.

  • Wes

    There can me middle ground on some issues–despite the fact that the middle ground was not really offered by these authors. On gay marriage, for example, here is a solution: Have the government authorized to only issue civil licenses. Couples to be married would then receive the 1100 + or – benefits allowed by governments. BUT no religious institution would be forced or required to bless or sanction any union not compatible with its doctrine. How hard is this? Gay people would be mad. And so would evangelicals. But it solves that problem. And it also respects both groups and their needs and views. Abortion—well that is more complicated and I can only solve one big problem a day. Goodnight.

  • Scott Petersen

    The “culture war” is conflicting values about replacing “traditional values” on abortion and gay rights and installing new ones. Neither side is going to abandon their “values”. What I would hope for is that both sides treat one another with respect. From looking at blogs lately, where insults and vulgarity take the place of reasoned argumentation, I am not hopeful.

  • Mr Mark

    How can people who write this, “But it turns out that nearly all of us agree on the common value that we should reduce the need for abortions in America,” speak of common ground and not expect to be laughed at?There is one common ground between all Americans, and that is The Constitution. Religion and religious beliefs are NOT part of that common ground, for while the Constitution guarantees freedom of religious practice, it does NOT require any American to respect such beliefs as having a shred of truth to them.As far as a “common value” on abortion, the Constitution sets up the Supreme Court which has ruled on abortion and has performed its Constitutional duty in so doing. Abortion is allowed in this country. Perhaps the authors – whose anti-abortion agenda is barely hidden – can get behind the decisions of the SCOTUS in this matter?

  • GL

    Good luck. hah!The culture war is how each side feeds red meat to the passions of their base. If there weren’t the open and virulent hatred of the other side, why, instead of voting against the enemy the people would have to actually pay attention to the BS coming out of the mouths of their own side’s party selections.Democrats: useless.so which is it to be this time, useless or dangerous?

  • RICHARD

    Abortion stops being a predicament at a certain intellectual and personal integrity level, hint hint.

  • Concerned the Christian Now Liberated

    abortion i.e. taking a life – nothing more needs to be said.the sexual activity of gays and lesbians i.e. yucky- nothing more needs to be said

  • brucerealtor

    The truth is that the most effective way to reduce the prevalence of abortions in America is to actually work together rather than to fight. ANDAnd we can agree that any laws we create to expand rights must not abridge the religious liberty of religious communities. Rights belong to INDIVIDUALS under the Constitution, not to greater communities, be they religious or secular in nature. And when it comes to ‘religious communities,’ we must remember that the First Amendment guarantees not only freedom OF religion, but also freedom FROM religion, should the INDIVIDUAL so choose.Of the original 13 colonies, 12 had compulsory religious requirements with only ‘Rogues Island’ being free from such requirements. Thus even in the very earliest colonial experiences, freedom FROM religion was real, at least for some.Having now made these observations, I am very glad that I have and follow a particular mainline religious belief, namely Roman Catholism, but as a member of Dignity of Washington, DC and Dignity USA, I note that we are NOT FREE to meet in Roman Catholic facilities due to our views regarding GLBT [gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender] issues. Indeed, it has been over 20 years now since any Dignity Mass was held in a Roman Catholic church at the insistance of the Vatican, not of us.Today, one of my Chinese-American friends confided in me at our Dignity Mass that he simply could not understand what Jesus really has to do with who becomes President, any more than Confucious does. I THINK THE POINT IS WELL TAKEN.

  • brucerealtor

    The truth is that the most effective way to reduce the prevalence of abortions in America is to actually work together rather than to fight. ANDAnd we can agree that any laws we create to expand rights must not abridge the religious liberty of religious communities. Rights belong to INDIVIDUALS under the Constitution, not to greater communities, be they religious or secular in nature. And when it comes to ‘religious communities,’ we must remember that the First Amendment guarantees not only freedom OF religion, but also freedom FROM religion, should the INDIVIDUAL so choose.Of the original 13 colonies, 12 had compulsory religious requirements with only ‘Rogues Island’ being free from such requirements. Thus even in the very earliest colonial experiences, freedom FROM religion was real, at least for some.Having now made these observations, I am very glad that I have and follow a particular mainline religious belief, namely Roman Catholism, but as a member of Dignity of Washington, DC and Dignity USA, I note that we are NOT FREE to meet in Roman Catholic facilities due to our views regarding GLBT [gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender] issues. Indeed, it has been over 20 years now since any Dignity Mass was held in a Roman Catholic church at the insistance of the Vatican, not of us.Today, one of my Chinese-American friends confided in me at our Dignity Mass that he simply could not understand what Jesus really has to do with who becomes President, any more than Confucious does. I THINK THE POINT IS WELL TAKEN.

  • brucerealtor

    FURTHER, when radical Islam attacks America and American values, it is clear that they are NOT attacking capitolism but they are instead attacking Christianity and Judiasm.Nevertheless, we provide that opportunity for them as the ongoing Obama being Christian or Islamic red-herring makes clear.Inasmuch as it is blasphemy for one of the Islamic faith and tradition to deny their faith [Islam], we can take Obama at face value that he is Christian.Next the denominations within Christianity will be fighting over which denomination he and McCain might happen to be.WHO CARES !!! Both are men of great character and honor and while as a veteran who served during the Vietnam War, I am a McCain fan, lets get on with the main course already and stop tap dancing over who everyone but Obama thinks Obama really is.

  • Mutunga

    The above article is nonsense and I hope both candidates address it as such. Come judgment day and judgment day is coming, each of us shall be answerable for themselves. God gave us free-will and we abused it. The saying that we are made in the image of God refers to this very phenomenon called free will. We have the reasoning capacity to choose right from wrong and it is our right to have our good choices protected by the law.Infanticile is murder and that is an unforgivable crime, a mortal sin in the eyes of our lord. Making innocent tax payers pay for it is forcing their hand in this evil. Roe v. Wade was a mistake and should be corrected expeditiously.On the matter of homosexuality, well, I see it as getting a tattoo. It is a very poor choice that ill informed misfits make. For those idiots who attempt to equivocate it to race or gender, then woe to them too for they are doomed to self deception. For those of us who believe in the One Supreme God, then we have to accept the fact that he took everything into consideration including homosexuality and designed our anatomy so that it is only comaptible with that of the opposite sex. Homosexuality is a foolish choice that ill informed misfits make and the media should be held accountable for glorifying it in movies, TV or print.

  • Dwight

    “Posted on July 6, 2008 22:58 your positions are wrong and condemn you. I don’t excomunicate anyone, those that support abortion do by their support. Go ask a Priest if you are excomunicated by your support of abortion, that is if you still go to church on sundays.

  • Dwight

    “Posted on July 6, 2008 22:58 your positions are wrong and condemn you. I don’t excomunicate anyone, those that support abortion do by their support. Go ask a Priest if you are excomunicated by your support of abortion, that is if you still go to church on sundays.

  • Frank

    “We can all agree that all human beings are created in God’s image…”No we cannot agree in such a stupid, superstitious premise — are you insane? You religious zealots need to go back to your churches and stay out of politics and our democracy. None of you can even agree upon which of your gods is “God” — especially Christians, Jews and Muslims, who all worship a feudalistic monarchy in their churches, not any sort of democracy.You suggest ‘sex education’ but want to refuse people the use of condoms and support a view that HIV/AIDS is “punishment for sinful behavior” — no matter how many children are dying. How morally bankrupt and downright cruel and stupid is that?Religionists say they are “Pro Life” when in fact they are ‘anti-life’, and constantly work to the destruction of the natural world in favor of the unnatural.You hold sway over your minions with the fear of death — making people afraid of natural death, turning them into corrupted, fearful cowards who are then forever unable to live and appreciate life to the fullest.Religion has eaten away at human dignity since the beginnings of civilization — burning, torturing, brainwashing, imprisoning and raping our children — crippling our scientists, our medical professionals, our scholars, and our artists — all in the name of some horrific, unnatural delusion. You are the true plague against life and humanity — mocking nature in the name of several dozen gods, and making war against, and murdering, men, women, and children who believe differently.Any non-brainwashed two year old can see the simple truth: YOU are the problem, not the answer.All loving, rational people need to work diligently to not only keep you away from our children but to keep you out of our government!

  • Hillman

    “For those of us who believe in the One Supreme God, then we have to accept the fact that he took everything into consideration including homosexuality and designed our anatomy so that it is only comaptible with that of the opposite sex.”Speak for yourself. I am not compatible sexually with the opposite sex. Believe me, I tried.As for ‘compatibility’, does that mean simply the ability to procreate? If so, then by definition you would limit marriage and equal rights to those that can and do procreate, right?

  • Roy

    But if the Rovians didn’t have cultural wedge issues of fear, hate, race and relgion, what could their candidates run on?

  • Roy

    God of Abraham, see what he has wrought. Protect me from his followers, all of them. Amen.

  • Bud

    Justice For All wrote: “If you don’t believe in religion, just leave this long-haired country boy alone. “I try to, I really do. But do the same for me too. If you believe, then also respect my right to not believe in your superstitions. Please keep your religions out of my public square, my children’s science classrooms, and most of all, out of my personal life.

  • Dwight

    ” Anonymous:you don’t get it, The catholic Church is not about the priests or the followers or the Pope, The church is about our Lord Jesus, The Christ, The Son of the Living God…men may fall but the church was not based on man it was based on a higher power…and that power considers the murder of unborn children a genocide of those he gave life to…

  • Al

    I think the authors have missed the culture war; between Reason & Belief!

  • A Catholic

    Dwight wrote: “but the church was not based on man it was based on a higher power…and that power considers the murder of unborn children a genocide of those he gave life to…”And what about the mother about to die without a lifesaving abortion? Do you sacrifice the mother to save the unborn? This is not a rhetorocal question. It is a consequence you and others that support a ban on abortion will need to answer for, in this world and the next.

  • 5 Dollar Foot Long

    But what happens when the pregnancies are intended because the girls all made an agreement, lets call it a “pregnancy pact” and get some homeless guy to impregnate them.

  • old91A10

    What an idiotic piece! The main problems stem from religious organizations trying to impose their private superstitions and edicts on a supposedly free society governed by laws. It would be more reasonable and effective for religious quacks and their flocks to keep their noses out of public concerns, than to expect that political quacks poke their noses into religious matters — which, by the way, is prohibited.

  • irae

    Sounds like a concession to me. I believe the positions outlined above are almost exactly what the progressive side has been advocating. Finally figured out that social conservatism is a losing proposition? Aside from that, it gives you teh ghey. We accept your surrender.love,

  • larry

    Truce on the culture war? How’s this for starters: STOP KILLING OUR CHILDREN!

  • Athena

    Oh, please. The “Culture Wars” are kept alive because they’re highly profitable. They’re a great distraction from the real problems facing our country and our world. The people in charge are dividing us along religious, class, and race lines because they’re afraid of what the American public would do if we banded together to find out the truth about how screwed up things have become.

  • Tonio

    As far as the religious right is concerned, the culture wars aren’t really about abortion and gay marriage. Those are proxies for their larger fears about modernity and the family. Many fundamentalists really do believe that gay marriage will mean the end of the family, like in that despicable and manipulative TV ad that ran in California around Father’s Day. Their failure to distinguish between public policy and personal conscience has corrupted the debate, drowning out the opponents of abortion and gay marriage who rightly stick to secular arguments. In a secular democracy, it’s irresponsible and dangerous to argue for a position by claiming some transcendent or supernatural authority for its truth.

  • paul c

    I see a lot of discussion here about Democrats vs Republicans, and atheist vs religious that I think are tangential discussions to the real question, “Can and should you legislate morality.” In general, laws are about creating order and protecting the rights of the people. The question then can become what rights and what people. In the case of Abortion, the real question becomes the right of the mother vs the right of the child. Does a child, once conceived, have the right to live? Under what circumstances? Those against abortion generally believe that life begins at conception and that life is the most fundamental right and trumps any right the mother has (short of her own life). The arguments for abortion tend to be about one of two things: either the belief that life doesn’t begin until birth or that the mother’s rights trump those of the unborn child. Its hard to see how compromise can really exist in this case, where one of the two constituencies (the unborn child) ceases to exist at the choice of the other (his/ her mother). This is many ways, the equivalent to the moral question of Slavery, where one constituency (the slaves) were under complete contol of the other (the master). It took a war to bring moral clarity to that issue. Hopefully this one won’t require such extreme measures.The question of Gay rights is a much different matter. In this case, both constituencies have a voice and the questions are generally economic (although I suppose public sanction is also a part of the issue) since there really are no victims. To me, most of the economic issues are easy to solve. Why would any one reasonably object to anyone sharing their wealth with anyone they choose, whether it be a wife, a friend, or a gay partner, and whose right is it to know which one applies. The question really is therefore, one of public sanction. I think it is obvious that some people have homosexual tendencies. To deny that is to deny observation. The real question is the morality of acting on those tendencies. If you believe this is immoral, than it would be wrong to expect you to sanction it by allowing gay marriage. If you think there is no moral issue with a gay person acting on their tendencies, then of course public sanction through the legalization of gay marriage is a logical extension. I can see compromise on the economic issues through civil unions or similar devices, because that doesn’t rely on public sanction of homosexual acts or a betrayal of principles.. Gay Marriange, however, is public sanction of homosexual acts and that involves not compromise but capitulation on a moral issue by one side or the other.

  • Tonio

    Paul C, since there are no victims with homosexuality, as you pointed out, would you explain why someone would regard homosexuality as immoral? I mean other than in the context of religious doctrine. An act cannot be immoral if it doesn’t cause harm to others. Deeming that act to be immoral goes against the principle of private life, and applying the concept of public sanction to that act represents an unwarranted intrusion by government into citizens’ private lives. The concept itself turns the concept of private life on its head – it wrongly implies that burden of proof is on citizens to show that government should grant them rights, instead of the burden of proof being on government to show why it deprive citizens of rights.

  • Kastle Brill

    There’s a major difference between the two sides. On the pro-choice, pro-gay marriage side, no one tries to force the other side to do anything with which they disagree. We don’t care about your beliefs as long as they don’t prohibit us from taking care of ourselves and our families in a safely and with the same legal protections which you desire for yourselves.

  • arckangjell

    Roe v wade happened because of capitulation due to misconception of the facts, because of the propaganda the news media propagated upon the american people at that time.The same is for the gay lesbian issue .God has and is cleansing our society of these rebels . So dont capitulate again

  • Paganplace

    “God has and is cleansing our society of these rebels “If ‘God’ is ‘cleansing’ society for you, …what’s with the torches and pitchforks, …and don’t you have anything better to be doing? ‘Archangel?’

  • Brambleton

    Kastle,When it comes to gay marriage, I would agree with you that the it seems that the overwhelming differences stem from personal belief. Although I would add that the percentage of people opposed to gay marriage in some non-Bible belt states have been a staggering 70% plus. But I digress.I don’t necessarily think the same logic holds true with abortion. Personally, I knew it was wrong to kill an unborn child long before I had any relationship with Christ whatsoever. I don’t need scripture verses from the Bible to understand that abortion is painfully wrong. Granted, we’re probably on the same page when it comes to situations involving the health of the mother or cases of rape and incest. But my guess is that the vast majority of abortion cases stem from unwanted pregnancies. And that is an unbelievably sad and selfish/self-centered argument.

  • Anonymous

    What truce is possible when one side blatantly distorts the Constitution, the Bible, and actual facts? The people opposed to the Constitutional rights of women resort to LIES I posted this before, and not one person could refute a word of it: In the entire span of the Bible, abortion is NEVER equated with murder. Human life is NEVER listed as starting at conception.These are all lies from the religious right, and they have fooled a lot of people.What did God say about abortion? In the Talmud, Life begins at birth. A fetus is POTENTIAL life. There are many examples of abortions in the history of the ancient Hebrews.Jesus had a lot of time in the gospels to tell us if He disagreed. Jesus NEVER said he disagreed with any teachings on abortion.Instead, Jesus spent his time telling us to take care of the REAL vulnerable: the poor, the sick, children, immigrants, etc.So what does the right wing do? They oppose reform of health care financing to help the poor, the sick, and sick children.The religious right wastes their pity on what God tells us is only potential life and permit the suffering and death of what God tells us is ACTUAL life.Shame on the hypocritical liars of the religious right. As Jesus said, they shall have their reward.

  • Linda in Oregon

    Thank you.

  • old91A10

    The hidden agenda of articles such as this is to prime us to accept Obama’s call for public funding of faith based initiatives.

  • Paganplace

    ” old91A10:”The hidden agenda of articles such as this is to prime us to accept Obama’s call for public funding of faith based initiatives.”Bush used a far worse notion of ‘Faith based inititatives’ as an excuse to cut Food Stamps and public assistance and send people begging for scraps for half as much, that half used in large measure for Religious Right proselytizing.What do you want Obama to do, take away the scraps, too? He’s running for President. People do *want* something like this. There are also a lot of good people out there trying to actually *help* people, after the ruin Bush has made of this country. If Obama wants to turn it into something more real, Constitutional, effective, diverse, and accountable, I don’t need no ‘priming’ to be all for that.

  • paul c

    anonymous:

  • Athena

    I want to hear from those people who are against abortion rights, and for overturning Roe vs. Wade, what their plans are if that does happen. What would be the consequences for women, for the Government, and society in general? If you are going to equate abortion to murder (as many posters here have stated), then what will be the punishment for having an abortion? For performing one? Who will ensure that each woman who gets pregnant does not have an abortion? How will you guarantee that a miscarriage is not induced? Will we have the “pregnancy police”? How will foster care and adoption services be revamped to handle the influx of unwanted infants, many of whom will have profound disabilities? And, for those women who do keep their children, are you going to expand pre-natal care, SCHIP, WIC, and other social services? What about child care? And how much is all of this going to cost the taxpayers?So, let’s hear it, pro-lifers! Put your cards on the table!

  • Paganplace

    “You state that the bible is non-specific about abortion and you are right. It neither condemns nor allows abortion. It does condemn murder, however, so the question becomes when does life occur.”Which, for right-wing Christians at least, has been made a matter of theology, not public policy. The anti-choice argument is made that a cluster of cells, or the potential for one, creates a human soul out of nowhere, and therefore the government should control reproduction in an absolutist manner. Other beliefs might say human life is in the experience of it (Including some prenatal ones,) …however sacred we might find motherhood to be. Conflating contraception and non-heterosexuality with ‘mortal sin’ and ‘murder’ just *isn’t* your call to make. ” More importantly, though, The bible is also clear that love conquers all and the natural extension of that is that if a mother loves her baby, she will go through whatever hardships occur to bring that baby into the world and bring it up in the best way she can. There is no way anyone can convince me that an abortion is an act of love for anyone..*That sounds like a convenient way to say, “Let me control your body, and if you and someone I forced you to bring into that body has a desperate and sucky time, it’s obviously cause God doesn’t favor you.”You don’t have to be *convinced.* You just have to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. Then we can talk like free people in a free nation or something.

  • Tonio

    My idea for a compromise on abortion:1. Limit legal abortion to the first trimester, with the customary exceptions (life of the mother, rape, incest). Roe legalized abortion up to the point of viability except when the mother’s life is threatened.2. Reduce some of the paperwork involved with adoptions, with the goal of making adoption a more attractive choice.3. Establish firm legal protections for access to contraception. Establish civil penalties for pharmacists who refuse to dispense contraception.4. Make sex education as comprehensive and accurate as possible. No more Alabamas peddling wild inaccuracies about condoms and touting sex as shameful.2 through 4 are aimed at reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies. But there may be many causes of such pregnancies that cannot be fixed with government programs. Any suggestions?

  • Brambleton

    Thank you for the response Pagan.My comments regarding gay marriage were not meant to infer that the majority should write the laws. It was meant to suggest that the disagreements might be based on something other than Christian beliefs.Again, on abortion, I saw this as the killing of an unborn baby BEFORE any religious views entered my mind. Personally, I really struggle with the idea that people can’t understand that a baby is a human being, regardless of the fact that you can’t physically touch it until it is born. This is especially puzzling when it comes to people who are parents themselves. How could you ever view a sonogram picture and come to any other conclusion? I am completely baffled.The point is, I don’t think you have to be Christian, or Hindu, or Buddhist, etc., to understand that this is inherently wrong.And I really don’t see the irony between abortion and guns. Just because you’re against abortion doesn’t mean you also have to fight against anything or any activity that can ultimately cause harm (i.e., skydiving, race car driving, hunting, etc.)I can’t comment about specific state/local laws because I don’t know the details. But I would agree with you that overzealousness can cause considerably more harm than good. The laws in Kansas that you cite do appear to be overly excessive and somewhat ridiculous.There is only one type of “safe” sex, and that is abstinence. If followed, it works. Period. I believe that there should be some sort of health/sex education in our classrooms but discussions on how to use a condom or the origins of LGBT sex is highly inappropriate.Lastly, I don’t know what the law should be governing abortion. I’m respectful of women’s rights and would normally frown on any law that would infringe upon that. But I don’t see how those rights are completely justified in the case of someone’s life. If you don’t want an unplanned pregnancy, don’t have sexual intercourse. It’s a simple yet difficult choice. But it IS a choice. Choices have consequences and how any man or woman could choose to kill a baby because they don’t feel the need to honor their own choices is beyond me.And again, I’ve had these thoughts and feelings WAY BEFORE my religious belief system taught me anything different.

  • Tonio

    “If you don’t want an unplanned pregnancy, don’t have sexual intercourse. It’s a simple yet difficult choice. But it IS a choice.”Brambleton, while that’s an admirable principle, it doesn’t recognize that many females live in situations where the choice is made for them. Some teenage girls lack the self-esteem to resist being pressured by their boyfriends. Similar self-esteem issues lead other teenage girls into relationships with exploitative older men, some of whom would resort to abuse if the girl did not get an abortion or even if she did. Some girls are pressured by their families to either have an abortion or to not have one. Some women are taught through upbringing or even culture that they cannot refuse their husbands’ advances. I don’t know offhand how to prevent such situations.

  • Brambleton

    Linda,It is certainly your choice to be “in the tank” for Obama – as long as it’s not because you are suffering from the “Warren Harding” effect.

  • Paganplace

    That also presumes that sexual intercourse without a church’s permission is inherently a *bad* thing, and as long as it *looks* like something that might result in procreation with a church’s permission, it’s better than people living their lives with awareness and responsibility. Gods, the same people trying to make reproductive decisions for all American women think it’s impossible to look at *porn* with any degree of equanimity… They’re gonna say ‘You must have banies, now, sinners,’ and figure it’s always the best call?

  • old91A10

    @TONIOI would endorse your points, 2 through 4, with little revision.In your concluding paragraph, I understand that you do not cast ‘Roe vs. Wade’ as a government program, but I want to make sure that no one takes it as anything but a judicial ruling upholding a woman’s right of choice and control of her own body.

  • old91A10

    @TONIOI would endorse your other points, 2 through 4, with little revision.In your concluding paragraph, I understand that you do not cast ‘Roe vs. Wade’ as a government program, but I want to make sure that no one takes it as anything but a judicial ruling upholding a woman’s right of choice and control of her own body.

  • old91A10

    I am sticking with ‘separation of church and state.’I am rejecting the hidden agenda of this article, which is priming us to accept one of the more recent ploys of Obama to abandon principles for the sake of the election.

  • M Mark

    paul c writes:anonymous:Absolutely incorrect. The god of the OT demands abortion at times. God is very much in favor of abortion. We’ve been over this before. See Exodus 21 and Numbers 5, for starters.

  • Garyd

    Wrong classical liberalism is not about defending man from religion but rather about defending man from the excesses of government. Without government to help no one’s religious view point is a threat to anyone else.

  • Anonymous

    @JULY 7, 2008 5:05 PM, PAGANPLACE wrote: “I’m also more concerned about the *obvious* agendas people hide from themselves than letting any more people get hurt over fear of a hidden one.”Please explain what this fragment from your rebuttal means. Thank you.

  • old91A10

    @JULY 7, 2008 5:05 PM, PAGANPLACE wrote: “I’m also more concerned about the *obvious* agendas people hide from themselves than letting any more people get hurt over fear of a hidden one.”Please explain what this fragment from your rebuttal means. Thank you.

  • Paganplace

    Try not reading it as a fragment, Old. What agendas are people being taught to accept, for fear of certain conspiracy-theory ‘hidden’ ones, you think?

  • Brambleton

    Mr Mark,Nobody wins and nothing is accomplished when you cherry pick biblical verses. This is true for both sides of the aisle.Case in point, I could point to a number of verses in which the bible speaks out against abortion…Psalm 106, Psalm 139:13-14, Exodus 21:22, Isaiah 49:1, Job 31:15, Proverbs 24:11.Again, this doesn’t accomplish much of anything. Besides, my belief in the rights and lives of unborn children needs no biblical support. In my heart I know that it is unbelievably wrong.

  • Tonio

    Old91A10,”1. ‘First trimester’ and ‘[fetal] viability’ will become the same as science and medicine evolve — perhaps, sooner than we may think.”I was assuming that “viability” referred to the natural kind, without scientific and medical intervention. “Physical and mental health should be enough qualification, i.e., it should not be a matter of a threat to life.”Do you mean the mother’s physical and mental health?

  • paul c

    Mr. mark.

  • Happy, Happy! Joy, Joy!

    Oh, great! Now that defeat is staring the Religious Right full in the face, they suddenly change tack and see the virtue of democratic touchstones like civility and tolerance; things they only scorned before. IMHO, they cannot be allowed to slither away from their disastrous economic policies, their poisonous ‘culture war’ against their fellow citizens, or their botched, genocidal war against Muslims in general and Arabs in particular.McCain’s kissing up to this offal now–after they trashed his campaign in 2000–should turn even the strongest stomach inside out.To quote Air Force General Curtis LeMay: “We have them in a bear trap now. Why not take their leg off at the knee? In fact, why not take their leg off all the way up to their hip–and maybe a little more besides!”

  • ame

    The common ground is caring for people. So it all depends on what you mean by If you mean to say “paracetamol and blood-letting are equally good ways to treat a cold” then things won’t go far.You could, of course, mean to say “paracetamol is a good way to treat a cold, but never exposing yourself to flu viruses is even better”. http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=167331&title=the-global-war-in-your-pantsBut lets not blur the issues here. The right answer is none what so ever, otherwise the number of parents leaving parenting to the state would increase. The state can not take responsibility for people’s lives – this would only perpetuate never growing up.The only thing the state can do in the case of people who have no upbringing is damage reduction.

  • ame

    It is, of course, only natural for people whose lives are run by someone else (The-God-who-plans-your-life) to want to live in a state that parents everyone’s kids, through moralization in school (abstinence programs).

  • Brambleton

    AME,”It is, of course, only natural for people whose lives are run by someone else (The-God-who-plans-your-life) to want to live in a state that parents everyone’s kids, through moralization in school (abstinence programs).—> I’m a little confused. The state SHOULD teach children how to use a condom (and in some cases actually provide one) and what it means to have gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender sex but it SHOULD NOT teach abstinence? Are you saying that sex education is NOT a family issue but abstinence is?—> And what kind of morals, or family values, are you teaching children when you give them the green light to have sex at any age and end unwanted pregnancies because of inconvenience?

  • ame

    BrambletonThe state should teach ‘how things work’, not ‘what you should do or not do’. I’m sorry for my tone of voice – it was inflammatory in my second post.

  • Paganplace

    No, Brambleton? Maybe Driver’s Ed should say ‘It’s God’s Will’ whether you crash or not. So we’re not going to teach you emergency braking cause it might tempt you to speed. When collision is imminent, abstain from crashing, and beg forgiveness. Better yet, never drive until you’re an expert. This will prevent anything bad ever happening. No-fault insurance is of course heresy, because as long as someone passes blame, you are right with virtue.”

  • Elizabeth Sholes

    Yes indeed – these are common ground issues. If Dr. Gushee and Ms. Laser can agree on these points, the rest is rather immaterial.Healing the divide is essential even as we keep our moral commitments. There will be those who cannot make this crossover, but the majority of Americans want to do this. Bill Bishop’s recent book, “The Big Sort” may reflect reality about whom we prefer as neighbors, but it misses the yearning most of us have to find good relationships with those who are not precisely our clones. Living in a state well-known for its smug self-righteousness (I bet you think you live there, too – there’s not just one of them) we find that being ‘perfect’ in every way is quite draining. Discovering the kindness and humanity in people with whom we disagree is a real joy. Hats off to Dr. Gushee and Ms. Laser for already knowing that.

  • Freddy

    What truce is possible when the side opposed to abortion rights blatantly distorts the Constitution, the Bible, and actual facts?”paul c” LIES from his very first words. paul c says about the text I posted as anonymous: “You state that the bible is non-specific about abortion and you are right.”paul c is WRONG! I never said the Bible is “non-specific” about abortion. I said “In the entire span of the Bible, abortion is NEVER equated with murder.”That’s very different from being “non-specific” about abortion. Do you see the difference, paul c?Abortion is referenced in Exodus 21:22 “When men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no harm follows, the one who hurt her shall be fined, according as the woman’s husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.”So abortion, even an abortion forced on a woman who does not want the abortion IS STILL NOT MURDER!paul c, I await your apology for LYING about what I wrote. And your LYING about abortion.

  • Alencon

    Certainly a truce with an eye toward (1) reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies through adequate sex education and social services and (2) insuring human dignity, which must include equal protection under the law, to all persons regardless of sexual orientation are worthy goals.Just one question. Isn’t this what Evangelical Christianity has been fighting tooth and nail against?Even as this post appears South Carolina is issuing “I Believe” license plates and has passed legislation allowing the posting of the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer in public places, Answers in Genesis is still holding seminars spouting Creationist nonsense and the Discovery Institute is still working its “wedge strategy.”You will excuse me, but I’d never trust Evangelical Christianity to respect a truce. This sounds to me like wanting a breather in order to resharpen their weapons.By the way, “Christians Ethics” has got to be one of the most flagrant oxymorons I’ve ever encountered.

  • DHFabian

    The cultural wars will continue as long as people demand that others hold identical views to their own. This arrogance has long been the dark side of the American character. Part of the cultural war is the war on the poor, which has escalated over the past quarter century; the more progressive among us condescendingly give lip service to the “working poor”, remaining oblivious to the rest. This was never a fill employment economy/society. Some can’t work, and there aren’t enough jobs for all who can. This war has fatalities that we refuse to acknowledge: consider that the life expectancy of America’s poor is now lower than that of most Third World nations while our infant mortality rate has soared, all a direct result of arbitrary (welfare reform) policies. That’s only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, of course. Today, the poor get platitudes instead of help, and are generally regarded with contempt. At best, they are used to expand our own (growing) bottom wage/no rights Third World workforce. The only way that the fundamental human rights of America’s poor will be recognized, it appears, is to strike back hard enough to cause the US to stop ignoring this issue. This is a matter of survival.

  • Bryan

    With Pat Robertson and Al Sharpton calling for us to clean up our environmental act, Barack Obama openly addressing the race issue, and now David Gushee and Rachel Laser calling for tolerance and respect, as well as asking our political leaders to exercise a leadership role, what is this world coming to?There may be hope for us yet.

  • Skywalker

    I have a late response, in case anyone is still reading…I would mostly agree with David and Rachel with regards to abortion, but disagree that there is much common ground when it comes to homosexuality. I suspect the great majority of Americans want to reduce abortions. Few see abortion as a good thing, though many see it as the best option when no good options are available.However, with the issue of homosexuality it comes down to a simple question that can be stated several ways: Is homosexuality a sin? Can a homosexual relationship and lifestyle lead to fulfillment and happiness or only misery and regret? Does God (if there is a God) approve of homosexuality or is it an abomination in His eyes?It is a yes or no question…not much middle ground. Yes, most of us agree that all, even those that choose* homosexual lifestyles deserve to be treated with respect, etc…but our views on gay rights, gays adopting, gay marriage, teaching homosexuality in schools, etc. are mainly informed by how we answer the questions above.And as long as you have two large groups of Americans with opposing answers to those questions you will have a culture war…it goes much deeper than even the best efforts of the next President of the United(?) States of America.*(And I do say choose…for the same reason an alcoholic can choose whether or not to drink though he may have a genetic disposition toward alcoholism.)

  • Skywalker

    I have a late response, in case anyone is still reading…I would mostly agree with David and Rachel with regards to abortion, but disagree that there is much common ground when it comes to homosexuality. I suspect the great majority of Americans want to reduce abortions. Few see abortion as a good thing, though many see it as the best option when no good options are available.However, with the issue of homosexuality it comes down to a simple question that can be stated several ways: Is homosexuality a sin? Can a homosexual relationship and lifestyle lead to fulfillment and happiness or only misery and regret? Does God (if there is a God) approve of homosexuality or is it an abomination in His eyes?It is a yes or no question…not much middle ground. Yes, most of us agree that all, even those that choose* homosexual lifestyles deserve to be treated with respect, etc…but our views on gay rights, gays adopting, gay marriage, teaching homosexuality in schools, etc. are mainly informed by how we answer the questions above.And as long as you have two large groups of Americans with opposing answers to those questions you will have a culture war…it goes much deeper than even the best efforts of the next President of the United(?) States of America.*(And I do say choose…for the same reason an alcoholic can choose whether or not to drink though he may have a genetic disposition toward alcoholism.)